When I woke up this morning, it was still dark. I looked at my phone wondering if it would read 2:10 in the morning. Nope, 4:52. Somehow this was the pass I was subconsciously hoping to receive: That I wouldn’t automatically awaken at the time of his death every September 3rd.
Before falling asleep last night, I decided that I needed today to be one of commemoration not of foreboding. I donned my orange Hook Donor t-shirt in the hopes that people on the beach would ask, What is a Hook Donor? so I could brag on my husband and our endowment. And that strategy may have worked if I hadn’t gotten so caught up in my shell collecting that I had to use part of my shirt as a cup-like vessel to haul back my beach goodies. Stretching and bending, I was in a race to beat the first sweltering rays before they escaped the clouds and landed on my unprotected face.
This, I thought, will be my yearly dedication to Hook — a northerly walk along an oceanfront – to honor not the miracle of witnessing his death, but one of the times he briefly returned to me in a dream, communicating without words at the water’s edge, where I could always go to find him. Then, it was Port Aransas on the Texas coast, in the Gulf of Mexico, which spills out into the Caribbean Sea and onward into the North Atlantic Ocean.
On the 1st anniversary, I stood looking out toward the Indian Ocean whispering these words:
Votary of nature* even from a child,
he sought her presence in the trackless wild
To him the shell, the insect, and the flower,
were bright and cherished emblems
of her power
In her he saw a spirit all divine,
and worshipped like a pilgrim
at her shrine
My whole life, I will never tire of reciting this ode to my husband, but there are three things I have learned in the last seven days:
- Music by Bread is not to be listened to on a regular basis.
- There is beauty to be found in the broken pieces of shells hidden deep in the sand.
- Kitty Hawk was not home to the Wright Brothers; it was only where they learned how to fly.
~ ~ ~
A friend loaned me a book in 2003 called Beachcoming at Miramar: The Quest for an Authentic Life. The author, Richard Bode, took the bold step of leaving “the real world” in exchange for the freedom to walk the sand at Miramar in northern California for a year. Bode died eight years later but not before he’d completed his quest: To heal and re-engage his own life.
~ ~ ~
A week ago, I stumbled across a song that I am oh so very glad I did not hear two years ago. As music often does, these lyrics tugged at tender places, and my plan for this anniversary was simply to post this song and nothing more. That’s how wretched the heartache was from listening to it. But the words describe Allan and me and where I am today, so perfectly, that I felt you deserved to cry, too:
You sheltered me from harm
Kept me warm, kept me warm
You gave my life to me
Set me free, set me free
The finest years I ever knew
Were all the years I had with you
And I would give anything I own
Give up my life, my heart, my home
I would give everything I own
Just to have you back again
You taught me how to love
What it’s of, what it’s of
You never said too much
But still you showed the way
And I knew from watching you
Nobody else could ever know
The part of me that can’t let go
Is there someone you know
You’re loving them so
But taking them all for granted
You may lose them one day
Someone takes them away
And they don’t hear the words you long to say
~ ~ ~
In the future when September 3rd rolls around, I will not fret when melancholy sets in nor try to push back the sadness. I will be grateful for what I have, not what I do not; and I will mourn a man so worthy of my tears.
Today, I am open and thankful and yes, a little disjointed in my thoughts. I am those jagged edges of the broken shells I keep collecting. But I know that if I stay long enough by the water, I too will be smoothed over by the ocean.
~ ~ ~
When the Wright Brothers came to Kitty Hawk in 1900 to test their dreams of flying, they failed so often that people forgot they were even here. It ended up being four miles south in what today is known as Kill Devil Hills where the brothers made their first successful “powered” flight. But none of that matters because the Outer Banks was never home for Orville and Wilbur. When they had done what they had come to do, they left North Carolina and returned to their family and friends, just as I will do when I learn how to fly.
Until then, I honor Allan William Hook, September 3rd 2013.