September 2003
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Here's the map of the trip to Yellowstone NP.

After 6 days on the road, we've come to the conclusion that the only thing wrong with America is that it's full of Americans!

We took the opportunity to take a day off before & after the Labour Day long weekend at the beginning of September, to honour Doris’s promise that would “show me the Rockies one day”.  It has been a real blessing that Stewart has done the vast majority of the driving & allowed me to sit back & relax (most of the time) & take in the scenery (& spot for bears).  He has the ability to just chill out & drive for hours, as I did when I was his age.  We covered over 2300 miles (that’s over 3500 K’s) in the 6 days we had available, as we bolted straight after work on the Thursday afternoon.  We followed the I-90 out through Eastern Washington, the top of Idaho & down through Montana into Yellowstone National Park, which is in the top left corner of Wyoming.  When we left on Monday morning, we went down through the Grand Teton National Park, over a couple of mountain ranges, across the bottom of Idaho & back in through Oregon & the Columbia River Gorge.

Doris had always wanted to see a moose in the wild.  On just the second day in the Park, there was a bloody huge moose about 25 feet away!  Any other ones we saw after that were a bit of a disappointment.  And we found out that it’s very easy to get up close & very personal to a bison, especially when the herd crosses the road in front of you.  And we even saw a rather confused looking coyote.  The highlight for me was the massive power of the thermal areas, to which mere photos often can't do justice.  As for the Grand Tetons, now that's rocky!  And big!  I kept saying, "Well, Doris, I see what you mean about the Rockies."

Getting back into work "full strength" has been particularly difficult.  I'm finding it very hard to concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes at a time & I take lots of long walks during the day.  I guess eventually the ratio of "real work" to "what am I doing here?" will improve.  It did over time all those years ago when I left Val; I guess I'll get there again one day.  And I guess one day, the pain won't be quite so all-encompassing.  I've done all that I can at this time to compartmentalise my life, to give as much as I have available to my work, to be as together as I can for Stewart & to give myself as much space for myself as possible.

Now is the time to set up a schedule for yourself to call us or write to us.  I am feeling so desperately lonely!  I can be surrounded by people & still feel completely alone!  Every time I receive a phone call or an e-mail message, it reinforces that someone actually cares about me, because a lot of the time, I really don't care about myself.  I'd like to crawl into a hole for the next 3 years & sleep.

 Each of my weekly session with counsellor Nancy have managed to provide me with not only the opportunity to unload in a safe environment, but also with some small practical details to enable the numbed mind to function a bit more easily.  Sometimes it's as simple as putting out the sleeping tablet at 6:30 when I take my other stuff, so that I can tell at 8:30 whether or not I've taken it. Apparently I still have her "permission" to wallow in my misery for a while longer.

My day starts at 5 am (sometimes even earlier if I'm already awake) when the alarm goes off, which gives me about an hour of buffer time before I have to start getting ready for work.  Often I head for the gym downstairs for walking & weights, or if I need to start early & make up time at work & forgo the car pool for the day, I can be on the road by 6 & at work by 6:30.  On Mondays & Wednesdays, I collect my car pool buddies from Kirkland (north from here, then come straight back through Bellevue), so I'm out at 6:45.   On the other days, they collect me from downstairs at about 7:10, hence the timing buffer.

When I'm not feeling sad & depressed, I'm actually excited by some of the messages I'm getting via ESP from Doris.  Apparently I have a very bright future & she is with me to the end of my time in this lifetime.  We actually have long conversations in the shower.  Perhaps the water transmits better.  It seems that she has to slow down from light speed to be able to make contact.  "So what's new?" I hear you say.

Meanwhile, Stewart is now working at his volunteer job at the YMCA Gym, just up the road from home & they are just delighted with him.   He has variable shifts, all starting at 10 am, so he had a reason to get out of bed every weekday.  Apparently, he has a "sassy" attitude that seems to eliminate problems before they arise.  Perhaps he learnt from Doris after all.  And when I rang there the other day, I was surprised to hear how mature he sounded on the phone.

The highlight of the work environment this week was the cricket match between BAL (Boeing Australia Limited) & the RPT (Resident Project Team, alias the RAAF people).  Guess who hit the winning runs!  No-one was more surprised than me.  The ball started out with a large crack & ended with a huge one, so it's now with me to get it made up into an annual trophy.  I've asked that it be named as a memorial trophy in memory of Doris.

It looks like the rainy weather has started to make its entrance.  The last few minutes of the cricket match were rather wet & over the last few days, the rain has alternated from none to a light drizzle to absolutely bucketing down.  Today (Sunday 14th, exactly 2 months ago it all started, hmmm) it's been fine & sunny all weekend, but I'm assured that the rain is well & truly on its way & that we should get used to it.

My life seems to be full of contradictions at the moment.  A lot of what I do is dull & boring, but I don't have the energy for it to be exciting & challenging.  I miss Canberra, but getting back there involves starting a new job & being expected to perform like a new employee or new incumbent.  I go out for yet another walk & realise that I'm just so tired & my legs are already aching & do I really want to go walking again.  I look back on just how much we used to talk, about anything or just nothing & I realise how special it is to have someone "on tap" to talk to.  And I miss constantly touching & being touched.  Every time we were near each other, there was contact.  I run from deep depression where it's quite obvious that no-one gives a stuff about me, through to being invited to parties or out to dinner, or hanging out with Stewart on a good day, when life is almost normal & I can be positive & look forward.

We went to the Boeing Family Day at Everett.  We had seen a TV program on the 747 plant & it really didn't do justice to the sheer size of the place.  Boeing buildings are usually pretty big, but the hangar where both the 747's & the 777's are built is 4 buildings side by side with no adjoining walls.  It's HUGE!!!  Because it was the Family Day, the production line was shut down & many of the working bits were pushed in together to make way for wide walk-through corridors.  Stewart was fascinated by areas inside, into which we couldn't see, where clearly there would be lots of activity.  We finally worked out that these areas would be where the aluminium sheet would get bend, folded, etc & attached to the strut thingies, to make wing pieces & all the pieces would eventually get joined together & come out over the top as a complete wing, to be attached to the body making its way down the open space.  It was really impressive to see a 747 not even painted yet, in the final stages of interior fit out.

Stewart has now returned to Canberra on the 23rd of this month,  as he really needs to get out of here.  Of course, I didn't even get as far as the airport car park before turning into a blubbering mess, but hey, that's pretty normal these days.  Initially he'll stay with Philippa & her family & will be working on finding somewhere for us to live.  So if you know of a nice 2 or 3 bedroom something near Civic for less than $350 a week ...  And if you know of anyone needing a really loyal employee skilled in IT Helpdesk, Access databases & Configuration Management ...

Meanwhile, I'll stay on to finish my contract & do some more grieving & growing.  I still plan to fly in on Christmas Day & I already have an invitation to be collected from the airport & whisked away to Don & Deb's farm at Burra for lunch with their family.

The "Doris Turner Memorial Trophy" has now arrived, complete with the split ball which is mounted on a support structure & the passport photo of Doris that everyone really likes.  I must try to get a photo of it before I present it.  Problem with that is that Stewart has taken the camera with him, so that he can send back photos of any accommodation that he likes the look of.

I have managed to eat reasonably regularly, although I think my stomach has shrunk, so I can't fit in any of the larger portions, so I tend to have some fruit around for grazing in between.  Dinner is a combination of making something simple & experimenting with the local restaurants.  At least with just one of me, if it's an expensive one, I get out of it a bit better off.  I even got invited down to Chrissie's place downstairs one night, to watch the first episode of the new series of "The Bachelor" with the girls.

I went to the Donor Family Gathering, put on by the Eye Bank & the Tissue Center, and as arranged, spoke to the gathering for about 5 minutes.  Here's a copy of the draft of what I had to say, which touched on some aspects of the grieving process, thanked on Doris's behalf all of the volunteers involved and publicly thanked all of the organisations & people that enable parts of her to be still alive here in this lifetime.  Apparently, I touched a lot of people with what I had to say.  Many of them mentioned that what I had said was what they had been thinking, but hadn't quite formulated it into words yet.

I also went on the Walk & Talk organised by LifeCenter Northwest & did lots of walking & not much talking.  Then at the very end of the walk, I was introduced to David, who lost his only daughter Tia last year in a traffic accident.  David & family have started the T.I.A. Foundation, to raise awareness of accidents occurring at intersections.  David proceeded to ask me to lunch with the rest of his family to celebrate his mother's birthday.  Reading this, you probably have no idea how hard it is sometimes, to just say "yes".  Lunch lasted most of the afternoon!

I have also purchased some website space & if you're reading this, then you're already on it.  It has enabled me to publish a lot of the photos that were weeded out for the original site because of space restrictions & also to go back & publish the photos of our trip to the east coast in far greater detail.  I have also been able to include many of the full size original photos.  I'll redirect the old site when my new domain name becomes active.

Meanwhile, my goal of getting to the end of a day & being able to say that I have survived another day remains the primary focus.

Next month