I miss Cathleen Cowie.
I think it was Carolyn (her beautiful sister) who told me once that grief comes in waves. Originally, they are tidal waves that you feel you’ll drown in. They batter you one after another, relentlessly, as you gasp and try to gulp in air with water raging all around. Eventually, there is more time between sets. They calm down a little and you learn to ride them. The ripples are almost always going to be there. And with time, the water becomes glass-smooth.
Nearly three years without Cat in this world, I can smile again when I remember our friendship. I feel her smiling back down on me, and it doesn’t leave my heart wrung out anymore, knowing that I won’t get to see her face this side of Heaven. But I can’t see that water ever being with any ripples at all.
Today, I had another wave.
Sunrise was stunning.
It always is, when I get up early enough to witness it.
I still think that the smoke is beautiful.
It’s a little scary, of course. There’s a part in the back of all our minds about what will happen if winds change and this fire rips towards us? How do we get out, if we’re so far into the backcountry? Would people/rangers/search and rescue even know we’re out here if things turn fire? We all seem to be on the same page of just figuring it will all work out, and walking on north, away from the fires without dwelling too long on these worries.
But no matter how far we try to walk away, the smoke that settles at night creeps back across the horizon every morning and lays heavy on the land.
The smell of smoke reminds me of home, of Australia. I grew up with bushfires. Every year, some part of my country is burning, and the smell of wildfire will forever be tied to smokey hazy summer childhood days.
Similarly, water reminds me of Cat. Beaches, lakes, swimming pools, rivers, waterfalls – she loved the water. I love the water! We spent countless hours and days around water together, and especially with the concept of grief in waves, water brings my mind to her very quickly.
It did today.
I followed a windy, rocky, creek in a warm, smokey valley this afternoon.
I climbed up from the valley floor, sat on a small clearing that overlooked mountains and valleys, and I grieved.
I cried for my best friend.
I sobbed for the moments we’ll never have.
I let tears flow in thankfulness for the years we had.
Having the time and space to ride waves, experience moments, create memories… I don’t take it for granted.
Sometimes it’s hard, always it’s worth it.
I’m a lucky girl.