I forgot that quiet like this existed. I’m retreating in a cabin owned by long-time friends. The property is situated on a lake, far from the winding gravel road one must travel to get to it. I’m alone, a rarity these days, which is why the quiet has taken me by surprise. It’s dark. The kind of pitch black I don’t experience much in the city.

I sat for nearly the entire day on the dock, only breaking to either dip in the water, or get another drink. The bag at my side contained the following: three books, a journal, one pen, sunscreen, a large beach towel, and a container of corn chips, a treat that I don’t think I’ve had in years but had the sudden urge to get on the drive up from Toronto.

Memories are flooding my mind. Everything from picking warm blueberries in Sudbury with my cousins when we were all little, to my mom sitting on a dock indulging in wine and chips, to my dad helping Cate make a fishing rod out of a stick, a bobber and a bit of line. Many of these recollections make me both smile and wince with grief.

With all that has happened this year, it has been hard to really stop and let my emotions play catch-up. I don’t mean cry, as that’s something I do nearly every day (and not exclusively out of sadness). I mean really sit with the magnitude of illness, care-giving, death, loss, and upheaval. Doesn’t sound like much fun, I know, and yet ignoring it is simply not an option. I choose to grieve.

As I lay in the sun, a unique sense of calm came to rest upon me. I can’t think of another way to describe it and don’t think it was something I could conjure up for myself. I allowed myself to fluctuate being reading, being still, and praying. I listened to a loon. I broke my rhythm of sitting and dipping by taking out a kayak and paddling around the lake. I wrote in my journal. I expressed my sadness and anger, gratitude and joy, longing and hope, all punctuated with tears that periodically welled up and spilled out.

The processing is far from done. I suppose that will always be true. This journey I’m on, one that has been so marked with challenging AND remarkable things, promises to continue being a wild ride. Maybe ironically, I have been reassured in this time of solitude, that I am not alone.

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