Today has been a perfect day and it is all because of my husband Paul. He taught me many lessons and today I put one of them to use in honor of his one year rebirthday week. He wrote a piece of prose about it that has been published. I will share it with you
The Good Traveler
"A good traveler has no fixed plans
and is not intent upon arriving.
This idea implies that we focus
and enjoy the journey more than just
having a goal to reach the destination.
People we encounter, views we never
have seen before-sunsets framed
by snow-capped mountains- could all
be missed without the intention to observe.
Hoping on a train, bus or taxi and
telling the driver to just head "that way,"
you could feel alive, spontaneous,
throwing caution to the wind, trusting
life will open you to the possibilities,
ones that possibly wouldn't have taken place
without your presence." (Paul Hakan My Tree Called Life)
I woke up at 4:30am today ready for my day on the coast. I had decided awhile back that during this week I wanted to return to a place called Cape Mears on the Oregon Coast. In 2005 Paul and I went there together while on our first vacation to Portland. It is a beautiful place and special to me because while we were there we were given the gift of seeing a female gray whale with her two babies. That alone was a life affirming sight and it touched us both deeply. All of this took place before either one of us got sick. I headed out of the city around 7am very excited to be going to the coast. I took a scenic route through a state forest and it was a magical drive. As I entered the town one must pass through before hitting the Cape I began to cry because on my left was a beautiful, green pasture full of cows grazing and I remembered seeing that same sight when Paul and I drove into town six years earlier. I made it to the lighthouse lookout at Cape Mears bright and early and stood there looking out over a calm green/blue pacific ocean. Amazing! As I stood there alone I said out loud "Baby look where I am" and a few tears fell down my cheeks. Then a voice whispered to me "don't you cry look where you are." It was Paul. I stopped immediately and exchanged those tears for a deep smile. After awhile I was ready to move on and it was still pretty early so I decided to just get in my car and head up the coast. Why not? I am free to do what I want this day. I turned onto the 101 or Pacific Coast Highway and just drove stopping to explore several beach towns, beaches and viewpoints along the way. I had done a little homework ahead of time and Googled vegan restaurants so I could have lunch somewhere. Make a note that although Portland is full of organic, vegan options that has yet to spread to the small Oregon coastal towns. I did find a few though. But before stopping for lunch I decided that since this was my day I would stop off at the winery that offered wine tasting whose signs I kept passing. I am not a drinker any more so this was a "treat" and the small samples they give out at tastings were plenty. I discovered a tasty new red called a Foche but was not wanting to purchase any bottles and was grateful to the 15 or so people that came in as I was finishing up. They allowed me to have my tasting and slip out. Lunch was along the Neahealm (sp?) river in a town of the same name. I sat on a deck overlooking the still river. The sun was shining bright in a brilliant blue sky. My waiter was very attentive which I assumed was because the place was pretty empty. When I went to the restroom on my way out I discovered what was most likely the reason for 6 water refills and several questions about the taste of my veggie sandwich. I had chosen top wear an old, comfy t-shirt that admittedly has a deep plunging V-neck. When I refer to it as old that is not necessarily in age but you see I have lost a considerable amount of weight over the past 4 years. Let's suffice it to say that I am no longer as top heavy as I once was and apparently this V-neck t-shirt required my former figure to keep the plunge in the right place. So for about 30 minutes or so it was like I was sitting on the deck of this small town restaurant in my bra and jeans. I had no idea. At least I know I won't see those people any time soon. I am pretty sure Paul was loving the show. Luckily, in Oregon you don't leave home without a jacket and I wore mine for the rest of the day.
I ended up at Cannon Beach. In 2008 after Paul's diagnosis we came to visit our friends Dana and Jordan in Portland. They took us to Cannon Beach to see Haystack Rock on that vacation. I have framed photographs of us all on the beach in front of that huge rock that juts out of the ocean. Today it was just me on that beach, in front of that rock. I thought I would be sad but I was not. I felt pretty happy to be there and confident. It was just me and that was ok. I felt at peace as I walked along the beach. Something inside me was telling me to sit down and just watch the water and feel the sand. So I did and an overwhelming sense of awe came over me as it usually does when I am at the beach. I realized that this is what life is all about and it is so much bigger than we realize. That is also when I heard a voice again this time telling me how beautiful I was sitting on the beach and how happy I looked and how that made him happy because that is all he wants for me. I responded with "I know." I felt the sun and wind kiss my face and knew it was Paul and ocean's song carried his sweet voice to me. I sat there for a long time watching the waves roll in and thinking about all of the possibilities that I might of missed out on today if I had only one destination in mind.