As time passes and my conversations with Karl deepen, no aspect of our relationship escapes our scrutiny (and my gratitude).
I always appreciated that Karl was the ultimate Romani Gypsy tinker, and I really miss the magic and eccentricity of that blessing he brought to my life. I wrote about that in my professional blog for years (https://sarkissian.com.au/wendys-blog/posts-from-the-bush/living-with-a-gypsy/).
Karl had many artistic talents that, sadly, were not nurtured in his harsh upbringing. I dreamed that one day we could convert the shed to a studio for him so that he could paint and make things.
Unknown to me, Karl was setting up a management consulting business when he died. I find this drawing among his notes. I think it is the logo for his new enterprise.
But now, on 3 July 2016, back in Nimbin, packing boxes of books and preparing the property for sale, I begin to cry:
We were such a great team. I didn’t realize it. Now, when something breaks in the house, it’s going to stay broken unless I can work it out.
please help me fix the tv
I feel lost and alone: “Please help me fix the TV. I know you are dead, but could you please fix the TV?” (Karl guides me to the right button, and I fix the TV.)
Later, Karl directs me to instructions for fixing the printer spooler. Then, when I jam the printer, a calm voice inside me explains how to fix it: how to stop and restart the print spooler.
Later, I find myself humming and singing as I wrap and pack my belongings. I am so proud of what we achieved with our house.
That distinctive flavor infuses much of my gratitude during the early months after the crash. I am grateful. Shocked, yes, and also grateful. I have escaped with my life. And, as cancer survivor and poet, Mark Nepo exclaims in The Book of Awakening, 2011, I did not survive to be untouched.
As I clear out my storage room, I reflect on conversations I had around the time of Karl’s memorial, especially with the regulars at the Nimbin Oasis Café he frequented. Not having heard the news, the Oasis owner collapses, sobbing, when I appear with an invitation to Karl’s memorial service.
We know all about you, Wendy, she exclaims, wiping her tears with her apron.
We guessed you appreciated that the Oasis was Karl’s special place, and you left him to it. We know all about your teaching in Canada and the books you’ve written. We knew that Karl was a happily married man. He always spoke so proudly of you.
A fundamental irony
In those early mourning days, as I count my blessings and my heart softens, I note a fundamental irony.
I tell Karl:
It’s funny to see that what seems like a complete tragedy (the loss of my Beloved) can be transformed into a massively great opportunity for a beautiful new life. I will be able to follow my dream to write creative and spiritual books (no more professional planning books). I will love my new life.
When we are mourning, celebrations can be gratitude-in-action. They can help us keep alive the essence of our loved one, especially during the first year, which can be a massive challenge. We may feel cautious as we face the poignant realities of anniversaries. But we must honor them nonetheless.
I go to great pains to ensure that our 22nd wedding anniversary (ten months after Karl’s death) is a joyous occasion. It is summer, and Rose’s Brisbane house has a spacious porch. I organize lunch for a close group of friends and engage them with lighthearted rituals. Of course, we light red candles for courage. We share positive stories of our memories of Karl. We devour a huge Black Forest cake.
I continue to recognize our “special days” in more private ways. When I forget, my heart breaks open.