Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Brian's Memorial Weekend

Sunday, August 21, 2011

It takes a village...

Humans are most humans when you need them the most.

We're back home, to a clean house, a trimmed yard, a stocked refrigerator thanks to wonderful neighbors and friends who got together and prepared this lovely welcome for us.

Port Orford is a small town, a thousand people or so, half of whom are part-timers.  Those of us who live here all year long have become accustomed to each other's rhythm, each other's special circumstances. On a second's notice, my neighbor Joyce and Jo coordinated the upkeep of my empty house, the maintenance of our gardens, the stocking of the refrigerator.

Dragging ourselves in last week, after 800+ miles of traveling with a caged cat who didn't enjoy the trip at all, we were tired, hungry, overwhelmed, expecting to find a weedy yard, dead plants, a messy house we had left when we rushed down to Long Beach after getting a 911 call from the sheriff's office in Fullerton where our son had been a victim of a homicide.

But, I knew that about Port Orford.

What I didn't know and didn't expect was the enormous amount of love and neighborliness   Long Beach and Los Angeles showed us.  People came to work on the garden and the house from miles away, day after day. Neighbors brought food and tools, put up with  noise and  constant crowds.  They eased our pain with grace and consideration.  The people on Terrace Drive were enormously congenial.  Even when we blocked their driveways to accommodate trucks delivering  sand and amendments,  neighbors jumped in to help unload.

I'm still wrapping my head around  last month's events. I'm still in shock in so many ways. But, I want to tell the world that we humans can be most human to one another in our gravest times, in the times that count the most.

So, thank you Port Orford.
Most grateful to you, Long Beach.
Thank you Fullerton's Sheriff's Department.
Gratitude to the people of L3, the company Brian worked at for their generous and heartfelt support.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New resident at our house.

Meet Newkie, a stray my son Brian adopted ten years ago, and has been moving around with him to his many residences until the last three years when the whole troupe, Brian, Newkie and then Butters, the lab, moved into Brian's house and Brian's yard.

She is a pro in settling in. Even at motels, as we traveled back home to Oregon after the funeral and the garden project,  she took the moving in stride, comforted by the fact that her humans were around, and food and necessities  were exactly were she could find them, in the same configuration.

She's settled in, a week into this move, and soon, she will be exposed to the outdoors for a few minutes at a time, until she learns how to retreat back to the safety of our house.
Her best toy? Empty boxes!
Her favorite activity? Sleeping.
Her favorite hiding place? The very dark recesses of a big closet. We were relieved to find her after a long afternoon of calling and looking for her everywhere.  So far, she seems content, curious and comfortable with the many nooks and crannies to explore in this new to her house.

In the evenings, she cuddles up willingly on our bed.
Just the way she did with her daddy!

Friday, August 12, 2011

What lives on...

We live on in each other's memories, each other's stories and images. We live on and on and on...
I think about all the people I've known, all the people I've loved, and not a day passes when I don't feel them around me, a hand on my shoulder, a smile directed at me, a look from their faces to remind me of how we were together, how we touched each other's lives.

We have a tough time with death.
We have difficulty with the concept of Ending.
The place is dark and airless.

We become obsessed with grief.
We tend to retreat from others.

Yet, a sketch like this one, shared by a friend, brings smiles and wink=wink-knowledge of the good times, images we can embrace to get us to a more solid path.

Thank you to all Brian's and Janet's friends who came by the house day after day to make the garden a reality. Thank you to all of you who joined us at the Memorial Plank Ceremony.  Thank you to those of you who left kind words to soothe our soul. Thank you to those of you who contributed money/resources to make the garden a reality. The experience that Janet, his fiance, had envisioned, became a beautiful reality. The coming together of friends and families who go back to kindergarten days in Woodland Hills was most healing.

Your love helped us deal with the dark place of Ending.

We are back in Oregon as of this posting, with Newkie, Brian's cat. She cuddles up nicely, and enjoys our company. We haven't even unpacked the many boxes we took with us, boxes that contain a rich and meaningful life.
We are safe for now, among friends.
We'll forge ahead, one small step at a time.

(If you want to see pictures of the Memorial Garden, visit me or Janet Lee, or Brian Williams on Facebook)