Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Time for Sunshine

A Sunrise for Marie (or from Marie!)
Three short years ago, Joa, Quena, our dearest friends, and I sat helplessly awaiting the unavoidable visit of "La Catrina". For over a week, we had been told by the hospice nurse that this would most likely be Marie's last night, that she had no strength left to make it through the night. Goodbyes were said again and our plan was in place to get Joa and Quena back into our room at the moment of Marie's departure. And each following morning for a week, Marie awoke with a mischievous smile and asked me, "Am I dead yet?" One morning, however, she awake in a rather serious state. She told me in no uncertain terms that
"Am I dead yet?"
today was the day she was leaving. "Now", I asked. "Yes" was her determined reply. So I woke Joa and Quena and we all gathered on the bed to share our final moments together. After a while, Marie told us she needed to be alone to do this, and asked us to leave, which we did. We discreetly checked on her from time to time as she lay on the bed with her eyes closed. Finally after a few hours I saw that her eyes were open and walked into the room. "It's not easy to die!" she complained. So I proposed to get her some mango and pineapple chunks to suck on and she accepted, although somewhat disappointed. It was not her style to give up without having gotten what she had aimed for. This, however, was out of her control. Not even a hard-headed Bretonne could outsmart "La Catrina".

Bon Voyage Marie
But weeks did not turn into months, and on January 9, 2011, Marie was able to let go and Move On. It was a cold, dreary, winter day. There had been many of them leading up to this moment. But it was a relief to all of us, including Marie. The painful days of watching cancer take someone you love so dearly were over for us. And Marie was free of a body that was holding her hostage. Despite the pain involved, it was a moment to celebrate.

The thought of Quena, Joa and me reuniting the following Christmas season in the throes of an Oregon winter was not inviting. We decided that whenever possible we would meet in a warm, sunny place to remember the winter of 2010-11. Marie would be with us no matter were we were, and she always did love love escaping the States at this time of year. So, Voila! A new family tradition was established.

"El Grupo" - Puerto Angel, Oaxaca
December 2011 found the three of us happily reunited in Puerto Angel, Oaxaca. We were staying with Alonso and Aurelia, some old friends that Marie and I had met  twelve years earlier. Quena and their daughter, Magda, had spent a good time together on the beach, and Alonso showed us how to dye wool with la caracol purpura, a snail that lives on the rocks off the coast. It was a great way to spend our first year without Marie. The Pacific was lukewarm and inviting. Joa was able to get some good waves in Zipolite, Mexico's renowned nudist beach, (he wore a suit surfing!), and we entertained ourselves with an ample supply of Negra Modelos and card games of 22, of which I was the clear victor (it's my blog J & Q!).
22 on the beach

The last two years we have all been in sunny places, but not together. Joa is working in Mali with Save the Children and cannot get to Mexico during Christmas. Quena has come the last two years and we have spent wonderful times in San Agustanillo, a laid back beach not far from Puerto Angel. We stay in a dream apartment with an unbelievable terrace that overlooks the sea. Marie would have sketched for hours there.
La Mora Posada - San Agustanillo, Oaxaca
Joa and Evans celebrating in Bamako
Even though Joa cannot be with us, he has managed to find time to stay happy and celebrate in a way that would have made Marie proud of him. 

Hopefully next winter we will be able to rendez-vous in a place where the sun warms our hearts and let's us remember all the good things that happened to the four of us during the hardest time of our lives. Even in death, there are good times to be had, laughter in the air, mezcal mingled with tears. "La Catrina" would have it no other way!

Happy Anniversary, Marie. Hope you are filling up volumes of sketchbooks and meeting scores of interesting and unique people. You always do. And if we all get together in the sun next winter, besides playing 22, we will even play a few games of "Bull-sheet" in your honor!

Ana, ice cream vendor, Puerto Angel
Empanada vendor - Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca

Pescadores, Puerto Angel
Marie's Sunset, 2013


Quena said...

Thankful for maman and thankful to get to share sunny moments with you! Gracias a la vida por todo que me ha dado :) as maman would say!

carmel said...

Marie could not be remembered in a more beautiful way. You were lucky to be together all those years. And you're still a happy family!
love C

Christi said...

Ah Deek ... just moments ago I found myself thinking of Mari (I can't help but spell her name this way) and looking at her picture on our altar, and thinking yes, her day is coming soon. So to turn to your pages and find her drawings and to hear stories of her fills me with sweet smiles. She was so loved. Weren't we all so very lucky to know her?!

Lisa Ede said...

Oh how very moving, Dick. Thank you.

Lisa Ede said...

PS I am now officially retired--and so far so good. I am seeing new possibilities and learning new things. I am looking forward to spending more time with Greg in the garden.

Sara said...

Wonderful memories come crowding through my heart and mind. The tears flow and the knot grips my gut. I love her and you and the kids. Thanks for sharing.

Arun Toke said...

Dear Dick
Thanks for sharing the touching memories from three years ago... I had missed on those. I still remember seeing you and Marie a few months prior to that in OSU at the Oregon NAME conference.
I am away from work this week and spending time with my son. We have managed to do some hiking, etc.
Take care and hope to see you upon your return. Shyam is at Whitman College, as you may know.
Peace and Happy New Year 2014.

Rosa Hernandez said...

Dick, gracias amigo por Compartir tus lindos recuerdos con nostoros. Espero te encuentres super bien y que tus hijos esten llenos de salud, amor, y felicidad. abrazos, Rosa

Anonymous said...

For me, two things elicit vivid images of Marie. First, I feel like I am with her whenever I am blessed with the opportunity to spend time with Dick, Joa and Quena. You cannot be around them for long without some reminder of Marie surfacing; a joke or funny story, a word or gesture, or a look of enjoyment and satisfaction after a beautifully prepared meal. A vital part of Marie lives on in each of these special people.

Secondly, seeing drawings reminds me of her. Aside from her Maman, family and many friends, she was most passionate about noticing the beauty of the world around her, and meditating on it through her sketches. She had a style which is recognizable, her signature way of looking at the world and capturing it with pencil lines and fluid colors. Every year (again this year) one of my resolutions is to draw more, to sketch rather than take photos, to take the time to do it, not for the results, but for the process, for the connection with life that it brings. In this way Marie continues to be a part of my life.

Oh, and there is a third thing that will forever remind me of Marie. It is a chant which Annapurna taught us the weekend of Marie’s passing and one which I sometimes play at 10:20 in the morning, the time when she crossed over to that place or energy field or universal love that we too will one day visit or experience. We can only hope that she will be there waiting for us. Oh, what a thought!

Gate gate

Gone, gone,
Gone beyond.
Gone altogether beyond.
Oh, what an awakening!