For the last 5-6 years my entire family has gotten together on this island owned by a friend of our family. He, miraculously, lets the entire Lello clan take over his private spot. There's a lot of us too, 28 or more depending. We don't arrive quietly, we fill his converted lobster boat with bags of needed personal items, baby fold-up cribs, food ... so much food ... and all of us. It's quite a big production, but we have so much fun out there from Friday to Sunday.
This past weekend was the island weekend. Last year Jim and I got to stay in one of the guest rooms vs a "bunk house" sleeping arrangement due to Jim's condition. Jim was improving at that time, getting stronger and able to walk with his cane by throwing that right leg ahead of his left, his right arm useless, rigid and held in front of his body. He had lost some of his ability to speak at that time too ... yet, he was such an incredible spirit and always pushing himself harder and farther. Dodge, the owner of the island, had a new double seater kayak last year and with the help of several family members we were able to get Jim into this kayak so that he and I could paddle around. Others joined us in the single seater kayaks, and a small motor boat came out on the pretense of fishing ... but really to stay close in case anything happened. Jim was smiling and kept saying "this is great".
This year it was very different. This year I had the freedom to sit and read rather then tend to Jim, I didn't have to leap up and move when he wanted to move in order to help him over the uneven terrain. I could lay down and nap without asking someone else if they would be with Jim so that I might just close my eyes for an hour. I confess, this isn't the Jim I miss and only a small part of the Jim I remember.
Before the cancer when I was with Jim I was always "home". It didn't matter if we were at 17,000 feet in the Himalayas or meeting villagers of the Kachin state in Burma, I felt at home if Jim was there. And as much as I love my family there are always times when I feel a little lost around them ... it's hard to explain or perhaps it's not that unusual, just a family dynamic. But Jim was always there to find me, to check on me, to just be with me. I got a little lost this weekend at times.
Saturday had been a day of swimming and jumping off the rope swing and running in from the rain showers that hit periodically. But Saturday night the showers had stopped though the sky was still a milky gray. Everyone was sitting around the fire we had blazing waiting for darkness so we could set off a few fire works that I had been gifted with for this weekend. We all got talking about Jim; how he had water skied behind one of the boats one year, how much fun he would have been at the rope swing today, how he was the only one that seemed able to sail the little day sailer without tipping her over. And as we talked about him the thick clouds that had hovered all day opened up and the setting sun blasted through in rose and gold colors, igniting the island in the most amazing light. I said "well, here he is" and Adrian lifted his glass in a toast to Jim. We all got real quiet after that toast and watched this sunset continue to awe us with it's deepening reds, purples and gold as the sun sizzled into the bay.
We all felt Jim's presence with us at that moment.
And I felt very alone and a little lost.
Loving you all back,