October 2003

Highlights further down: Leavenworth, Mt St Helens.

These are fairly random thoughts and notes, recorded in the style of a journal as they occur.

I have received some very interesting e-mail messages lately that people are seeing Doris in their dreams.  In one, she was dressed in deep forest green.  In another dream, she was encouraging the person to take a risk and make the changes that she needs to make.  In another incident she appeared on the bonnet of a car driving through the desert, dressed in dark pink, with her hair and bangles streaming out in the wind!  Apparently, she hasn’t lost her sense of humour.  If anyone else has seen her in a dream, I’d love to hear about it, please.

Work continues to be a hard place to be, with work periods interspersed with periods of blubbering out in the car parks, but I am now determined to see out my contract period and hopefully return home a stronger person.  I’ll be flying out on the evening of Friday 19 December.  I just hope there’s a job to go home to.  Maybe this is a good time to “trust the process”.

It’s been another busy weekend.  I went to a quick dinner and a movie with neighbours Chrissie and Ali.  Pity about the movie, Lost in Translation, the funniest part about it was that they had bothered to make it in the first place.  Still, I really enjoyed the company and I actually stayed awake long enough to go for a drink afterwards.  On Saturday, I went with Simon’s family to the salmon spawning festival at Issaquah.  The interesting part about the parade, apart from dragging out way too long, was that all of the bands were from High Schools.  In Australia, you’ll always get several professional bands, or at least adult volunteer, like Police or Highland, and their lines are always dead straight.  Seeing the salmon spawning right there in the river was pretty cool, too.

Having purchased a small camera, I took the opportunity to do something that everyone must do when in Seattle – visit the Space Needle.

Sunday was a return to the process of getting out of the Seattle area for at least part of every weekend.  I went north, then east into the Cascades and found myself on a forest road in the middle of nowhere, the road marked as two-way traffic on a one-lane road with turnouts, which means, “take it easy around the corners and hope that anyone coming the other way does too”.  Really good to get out and get some fresh air and hit some dirt road.

Meanwhile, I heard that Stewart had rolled the Cruiser onto its side and yes, he and his passenger(s) are OK.  I guess it happens to all of us at some point in our lifetimes.  I banged up the Torana twice before I finally learned my lesson.

I’ve decided on a theme song for this transition period of my life – Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”.  Please listen to the words when you next hear it.

Just when I though that I had “dried up” a bit, which Dr Nancy says is about right for timing, it’s crazy what can trigger me into bawling my eyes out again. I asked the lady next to me at the shop how long to cook a roast, and when I finally got the gen from the butcher himself, she said, “just tryina be sociable, werncha?”  To her it was an off the cuff, to me it was devastating and I cried all the way home.  I did manage to cook the roast for the girls and it turned out OK, complete with vegies and the beer marinade.  Both were suitably impressed with the size of the apartment.

On the Deakin job front, there is one vacancy for which I have already applied and I’m told another one will be advertised very soon.  And I have put it out there that while a 19 December departure would be OK, a 21 November departure would be even better, because then I could make it to the 40th anniversary of the Latrobe Park Scout Group, coinciding with their name change to Canberra Air Scouts.  Either way, I am rapidly learning to go with the flow.  Funny, that was something that Doris and Stewart needed to learn too. Hmm.

I have also re-shuffled the main room in the apartment, to bring the table out to where I can use it for both the computer and to eat on.  Not quite enough for 3 to eat there, but great for messy meals.

Work crews have been demolishing this bridge over the I-405 freeway to make way for a bus interchange with a direct connection to the freeway. I can hear it in the apartment half a mile away.

The weekend trip to check out the western side of the Hood Canal went well.  On Sunday, I left at 7 in the morning and had cleared Olympia by just after 8, then in the tradition of Fiddaman family outings, got lost a few times and took some small side roads before reverting to the main drag.  There are some big chunks of water around here and you just have to drive around them.

I do like the pooping caravan.

I came home via the Bainbridge Island ferry.  I stood at the front of the vehicle deck as the ferry turned into the wind and dared Hughie to throw me what he had – it’s quite a feeling almost getting blown off your feet.

I bought myself some new glasses too.

I keep hearing on the radio or from talking to people, that people have lost others very close to them and that they miss them very much and it leads me to thinking that I’m not alone in this process.  And each one of them will have gone through the same emotional roller coaster and the feelings of grief, guilt, loss, shame, depression, hope, anger, often several at the same time.  I guess the only difference for me is that this one is for me and no one else will feel the loss the same way as I do.  At times, I feel selfish and I know Dr Nancy will trip me up and say, “well hell, it’s only been 3 months.”  I still get lots of triggers for bouts of crying, like songs on the radio, or thought patterns that drift back to some aspect of the way Doris and I worked, lived and loved together.  Howard put it so well earlier this week that I’ll quote him direct: “It has always struck me as ironic that love is a peculiar thing.  When our soulmate leaves us, we go through agonies of separation, yet we would not have it any other way, since to do so, would deprive us of the wonderful times we had experienced, and which live on in our memories.”

The other “sight to behold” is the flock of Canada Geese that occupies the old swamp land in a corner of the Boeing site. They’re the black and white things in this picture.

After presenting Doris’s reading glasses to the Lions Eye Bank at the Donor Family Gathering, I received a letter from them.  At first, it seemed a bit over the top, until I realised that it is a means of them being able to acknowledge all of the gifts they receive and to promote the multiple components of the work they do.  It’s the sort of process that Doris would have had in place.

Here’s the letter:

Another update from 2018: While I’m on the subject, there were a number of documents that I received around that time. Again, they are here to complete the story.

From Life Center NorthWest. These are the people who arrange the donation:

From NorthWest Tissue Center. These are the people who process the donation. Their document contained similar information but was a little easier to read here:

Along those lines, I prepared this for our friends:

A follow-up later from Life Center NorthWest:

The last one. I sent this to St Johns Parish in July of next year:

Meanwhile, the description of a roller coaster seems to best fit where I am.  Up, down, sideways, never really knowing when I’m going to be hit or where it’s going to take me.  Apparently, it takes months to start slowing down.

The following weekend saw a day trip to Leavenworth, which is a Bavarian village up in the mountains, complete with shop staff wearing authentic costumes.

And another day trip around Whidbey Island.

The session at the Overlake Hospital Bereavement Group was particularly interesting and exhausting. The were nearly a dozen new people there, many of them in the distressed state in which I arrived there some 2 months ago. Suddenly I found myself as one the “senior” members of the Group, in a position to pass on words of encouragement and advice. I’ve also had a week of being out to dinner almost every night, and thanks to
Hugh and Bron,
Sylvia and Bill,
James and Meredith.

The final weekend was a day trip to “go find some water”, which is something I do often, in this case watching the ferries come and go at Edmonds, plus a long day trip to Mt St Helens. I actually managed to get some reasonable photos of the crater, the blast zone, the mudflow, the lake that was created by the backed up water and some new growth.

And of course, October ends with a bang, with Halloween. I went down to Bellevue Mall to take in the whole costume, dressing up, trick or treat, scene. It’s probably just as well I don’t still have the good camera – I’d have gone nuts taking photos. The majority of the shops were handing out candy, which makes for a good safe environment, especially for the little kids. Costumes ranged from the simple addition of a witch’s hat right through the ghouls and goblins to formal attire and a full blown hippy family in bright greens and yellows.

I now appear to be locked in to returning home to Canberra on Sunday 21 December, as suitable jobs don’t seem to come up very quickly in the Defence environment.  Which means I’ll be home in 7 weeks and counting. And the antidepressants I’m on seem to be starting to kick in. I’m not quite so heavily depressed when I get teary and instead of actually bawling my eyes out, it’s more a case of tears rolling down my cheeks in a somewhat more dignified fashion.