Adventures of the Heart

Yesterday my second oldest sister and her heart twin left for another adventure at sea.

These sailors were the ones who scooped me up in Idaho Falls when my own heart twin died. Linda held me and let me fall apart, tempted me with bits of food and things to drink, helped me decide what to wear when I was unable to even look at the clothes Warren and I had bought on vacation.  Chris took on the practical and necessary as well as comforting a broken sister-in-law: dealing with the funeral home, packing the truck, dealing with the hotel. They both made me walk (‘Walking is life’ I hear Warren say), and listened to me talk, and encouraged me to cry when the grief was still so acute.

Sailors are the best people to have around when things go wrong.  Although they always have a plan – I mean, it would be silly to hop on a boat without planning the food and water and route – they are prepared to change direction at any moment.  I guess that’s what happens when you agree to live a life that is based, literally, on where the wind takes you.

I spent a week or so up at the cabin with Linda and Chris, just hanging out and healing.  Although things are getting… better? I have a finite capacity to be sociable – interacting with people is exhausting right now. Linda has a warm and generous heart and let me just be in silence or chatter on when I needed to. Chris, a quiet man, also has a warm and generous heart. He listens to my endless chatter, always with an interesting perspective and often excellent advice: ‘You have a million tears to shed for Warren,’ Chris told me when we were in Idaho Falls, ‘that’s your job right now. You need to get at it’.  And I did.

I arrived to pick them up yesterday around 11:30 and take them to the hotel in Toronto where they would spend their last night as land lubbers before a ridiculously early flight to Quebec. They were zipping around attending to final details at the house, packing and discussing what needed to be done. They were excited and happy to be on their way to their next adventure together and the love they have for each other was clearly evident. It made me think of when Warren and I were waiting impatiently for him to finish his last job so he could come get me and we could head out on our Epic Road Trip.

A brief grief squall – Then gratitude for the memory.

We got on the road and wended our way through the traffic to Toronto. When I dropped them off at the airport we hugged and they told me to be strong and I’d see them in December. Well, Chris said he hoped he WOULDN’T see me in December but he just says that to hide his warm and generous heart. Also he’s a little bit of an ass. But I love that about him too 🙂  As I headed back to Guelph I had another brief grief squall – these sailors bring all kinds of unpredictable emotional weather when they leave.

And now it’s time for my own adventure.  I’m waiting for the results of two job interviews – I may end up in Alberta again, or I might stay in Ontario. One of the gifts I got from Warren was the gift of travel – I can go anywhere now – and I don’t fear anything anymore. So now where I land is less important than where I can go. I do miss those blue eyes and that hand to hold as I travel though.

I got a text from Linda this morning, saying they made it to Gaspé just fine and soon will be reunited with their beloved MonArk.  If you would like to follow their adventures, Linda also has a blog called liveaboard four seasons on a sailboat.  If you follow that link you can watch as she and Chris sail across the sea again.

It’s amazing where life can take us.

 

 

And now: the Thank Yous

This is the final entry in the Exercising Ursula blog of my and Warren’s travels.  I’m back with my family in Guelph and my travels are over.  And it would have been Warren’s 56th birthday today – and that somehow seems like a fitting place to end this blog as well.

Thank you to all of you who have been following along – Warren and I both loved creating each entry and through our day would talk about what the title of the blog would be that night or what we’d like to capture.  He had never blogged before so it was fascinating for him to watch the views and likes that we got, and he was amazed at how many parts of the world our blog was being seen. Thank you for helping to make him happy and for being a witness to the story that unfolded.

Thank you to my friends and family who reached out and scooped me up  when I fell apart in Idaho Falls.  And Thank you to Warren’s friends who sent their condolences and shared good memories about a lovely and well respected man. He certainly is missed by many.

I will be continuing to add my writing and life stories on this site, but not to this particular blog. This journey is over: my suitcase is unpacked, souvenirs stored, memories treasured. My heart? Well, I’m trying to let it mend.  But part of it is missing. I don’t know how I’ll get used to not having the comfort of the man who played such a part in my life for the last 13 years… but I will never forget the spring we two 55 year olds ran away and had the most Epic Road Trip ever.

The quote from the Blues Brothers below is what Warren said every morning when we started out – he was delightfully predictable in this regard:

… we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark out, and we’re wearing sunglasses.

He certainly knew how to make me smile.

Goodnight Mr McLeod.  I’m going to miss you, my Bear.

S

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Swift Current, SK

We started out from Calgary at about 12:30 and drove straight through to Swift Current Saskatchewan. 

It was different travelling without Warren – I missed holding his hand and chatting about the things we were seeing.  But it felt,  not good… but familiar – to be back on the road, Ursula eating up the miles. 
I had moments when I felt ok again, and then guilt and sadness would coming rushing back in.  It feels wrong to be continuing on without him. 

Roslyn is a good co-pilot. She kept my spirits up when they started to flag; let me ramble on aimlessly about the adventures Warren and I had. Gathered me up when the sorrow pulled me apart. 

Tomorrow we are going to cross the border into the US again – it cuts a day off our travel time if we go under Lake Superior instead of over it – and we are heading towards Fargo ND.  In true Warren Style, I chose this destination because of the movie. I’ll get a picture of me with the sign – carry on our tradition, right?

A hard journey – but he taught me much about living each day for the adventures it could bring. He made me brave. 

Miss you my Bear. 

Stay tuned, 

S&W 

13,928 Km of Happiness

Idaho Falls will always be a place of darkness in my heart.

My Bear had trouble sleeping that night and when at 3 am I pulled him to me and asked him what was wrong, he told me not to fret and hugged me and told me to go back to sleep.  We both were awake for awhile while he tossed and turned…

When we woke up that morning he said he was feeling better.  We cuddled in bed for a while enjoying each others company and giggling a bit as he tried to warm his feet on my legs.  Finally he swatted my bum and told me ‘Go shower Woman!’.

I was sitting at the dressing table, putting on my make up when he came out of his shower and stood for a moment.  I turned to him, ‘What’s the matter Bear?’  He shook his head ‘I don’t feel well’.

On May 5th Warren Allen McLeod, my Bear, suddenly ended his journey in Idaho Falls.

I hold the love of this dear man tight in my heart.  He was the best travelling companion and was never more happy than when we were holding hands and driving to our next adventure. The little travelling rituals: putting on our sunglasses; making sure there were drinks in the Refreshment Boots; him taking my hand and saying ‘We cats are ready to go’ – these are imbedded in my memories. And always, the radio tuned to his favourite Country and Western station. There was never a day when he didn’t tell me how much he loved me.

The last 5 weeks? That was just our season.  We ran together like two happy dogs and explored everything that caught our noses.  And he has been spared the slow inevitable death that diabetes brings. So although it devastates my heart, it is the best end for our run.

I learned so much from this kind and gentle man. And my heart is more full of love for him now than it has been for the last 13 years. Our time together was meant to be and I know that of all of it, the last 5 weeks were the happiest I have ever seen him.

Soon the acute phase of grief will pass. This first week was the hardest.  Then it will be the first month. The first year. And soon he will be the smile on my face and the courage in my step. My life will be better having known him, but first I need to find my way out from under this tsunami of grief.

I’ve added a slideshow of Warren and a song by Alison Krauss that speaks to my heart.  Warren wasn’t a religious man, but I know he will appreciate the sentiment of the song.

I miss you my Bear.  Safe travels on your long journey.

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