Sunday, February 7, 2021

One Outing at a Time


Outdoor Dining
Russian River
Northern California

My sister and I have always tried to pick each other up when we are in the mud. Especially during times of relationship break-ups and now, my loss of Scott. Yesterday, she picked me up to head out to the coast so I could walk the beach and take photos. When we reached Bodega, it was clear that we were not going to stay for long, it was a drive through along the cliffs looking out to a perfect beach day. Everyone else from the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento felt the same way. The traffic was head to tail inching along the scenic highway. The seafood restaurants and pop ups were so crowded, you wouldn't know there was a deadly pandemic going on except for the masked weekenders. Six feet distance in line. What's that?  If there was two feet distance between people standing in line for clam chowder and crab sandwiches, I missed it.

We left Bodega, drove through three towns heading back home. All the parking lots and outdoor dining burger and beer joints filled to capacity. At this point, my walk on the beach shifted to an outdoor meal, we could see how everyone from locals to tourists wanted to feel a sense of normality and fun, we did too. Me, especially, the grief and sadness has been wearing me down. We headed out to the Russian River area, and found a winery open that we had remembered having a wonderful dinner at with my parents years ago. We knew the wine was good, the food was great remembering the wood fire pizza topped with juicy sweet pieces of July peaches and fragrant herbs, and the bats. The bats live in the towers of the winery and fly out at sunset, swirling around the lavender and blood orange sky hunting for insects. 

At the winery, we were lucky to get the last table at least six feet from the others. Half the tables with dogs underneath them. Retrievers, poodles, terriers, adorable mutts and an Alsatian Shepherd who proudly trotted to each table with a ball in his mouth and a big smile. Most of the wineries and vineyards allow people to bring their dogs to events, tastings, and dining. I loved being around the dogs. My sister, of course, fell in love with the tan and black shepherd right away. My eyes were on the perfectly groomed Sheltie tucked between her couple while they shared a platter of soft and hard cheeses, green grapes, spiced walnuts and sliced green tart apples and pears. 

We ordered our food and flight of wines from white to red. I felt alive again as we sat and talked near a small grove of redwoods surrounded by people laughing and sharing stories under twinkling lights and the orange glow of outdoor heaters. I could feel Scott's presence behind my shoulder. I felt him smiling. I knew he wanted me to have a good time and I did. I felt sorrow too. Sometimes, during the dinner of beautiful food, lovingly prepared, and good wine I didn't want to be there, I wanted to leave and be with Scott, even though it was so perfect last night with the music playing and the joy of people and dogs outdoors for the evening. 

This is the truth of grief. Of losing someone so close to you, so close you can feel their breath move through you. Some people think they can bravely shake off a death and move on, they don't know of what they speak. Only those of us who know the pain, the flood of emotions, the courage it takes to get out of bed, to put one foot in front of the other, as the spirit aches for their partner and intense pain churns in the heart and stomach can speak to the truth of it. And then when joy and light finally find a way in, the guilt tries to tackle the small bits of hope rising. I can't even put into words the experience. I also know deep down, in my spirit and soul, that this grief is a gift. A sacred gift, I carry, for my love is so deep, like no other, I have experienced.

So, this morning, I write to you. another dawn will be rising soon here in Sonoma. I don't know what it will bring. I will face it with courage and heart. I pray and hope you will as well. We are meant to live well in joy. Those we have lost want that for us, even though we may doubt ourselves.
 
Meal shared between Two Sisters 



4 comments:

Becky Wells said...

Joy and grief are gifts of equal value. I appreciate your writing about them.

Unknown said...

I don't know grief as you do. I'm thinking that it has one living a shifted life. a huge shift.
the bats sound lovely.
Diane

Janet Hamilton said...

Thank Becky:)

Janet Hamilton said...

Diane, Yes, you got it. It is a shift, for sure. Unfortunately, no bats this time, but I think we will see them when we go back during warmer weather. Maybe, I will be able to capture a photo:)