Season 2: May and June 2016
It’s nearly three months since Karl died. Sensing I have exhausted the patience and generosity of my Australian helpers, I fly to California for a week and on to Vancouver for seven weeks, taking a break from preparing the Nimbin property for sale. Of course, we no longer own it. I am selling it for Anne, who asks only what she paid for it. I can do only one thing each day, nothing more. No professional or intellectual work. No chance of that!
My North American holiday
My North American holiday turns out to be little more than respite: like living in a nursing home. I am frozen, exhausted, and terrified of my new life. Lacking guidance and direction, I struggle to live out of my suitcase. I hate asking for help. I make fake phone calls to Karl, leaving messages on his cell phone. I glimpse him in the wind, in the trembling leaves of the aspen trees. When I invoke him, I sense that he can freshen the wind and make the leaves quiver. I try it several times, and it seems to work.
When I do venture out, I often find myself collapsing, weeping, on a bench in a public place. I bargain and offer anything to God to bring Karl back to me.
I can barely manage the intensity and unpredictability of my grief. In Vancouver, I convene a meeting about a languishing professional book project, but I cannot hold it together. The project collapses.
Nevertheless, my daily communication with Karl comforts, reassures, and guides me.
Most of my North American friends are warm and compassionate, shocked by my circumstances and impressed by my ability to manage my grief. Some pull back. I’m confused and hurt by that. I try to finish the Nimbin granny flat permit from Vancouver but finally admit it’s the last thing I can handle.
When I write in my journal, I communicate with Karl, feeling comforted.
At the end of May, I compose my first poem for Karl, closing with a powerful expression of gratitude to him.
Karl’s 68th birthday
I weep throughout the whole of Karl’s birthday (23 June 2016), nevertheless declaring that losing him has opened me to even more love.
When a close family member in Vancouver cuts off all communication with me, refusing to explain why I protest:
I am a broken and grieving person who is sick with grief. I am spending most of my lonely days weeping.
Sensing my state of suspended animation, loneliness, and uncertainty about my future, Karl cries out to me:
Let me help you! Just ask for help!
I am terrified that I’ve permanently lost my mojo, but Karl steadfastly refuses to accept my views.
I find some things easier than I expect. Slowly, I begin to recognize and accept Karl’s support. I sense that he is punctuating my journey with guidance, signposts, trail markers, and thresholds.
This new path is rising up to meet me. I am making it by walking it.
Vancouver feels fresh and creative, much more so than Australia. I dread returning to Nimbin and all the painful jobs related to selling the house and moving out. (And I have no idea where to move to.)
I worry that my Sydney lawyers (who have worked out that I am elderly and impecunious) are lazy, disorganized, greedy, or do not have my best interests at heart. (Or all of the above.)
After doing one tiny thing each day, I fall exhausted into my bed, sleeping fitfully.