Oh, you wonderful, wonderful creatures! Thank you, thank you, thank you.
We were nervous about our Bon Voyage Party. It seemed possible that we might just sit amongst you all and sob, which would not be fun for anyone.
My heart-sister Eleni sent me this wonderful video this week about grief. It says that research shows that the best way to support someone who is grieving is not to cheer them up or fix them; these tend to backfire and lead people to feel misunderstood and isolated, to turtle up or to defend their feelings. What works best is to hold people in the moment, to witness them, to allow their pain. When we feel connected, we heal.
This week, I held myself gently and carefully, and I turned to the people who hold me in my pain and my vulnerability, loving me as I am. I let myself bask in the darkness until I felt peace, and when I felt ready I turned toward the light, spending a couple of days meditating very strongly, contemplating that which I have found to be the wisest thing I see about grief and loss: we ache because we love. We can focus on the ache and deepen our sense of loss and isolation, or we can focus on the love and feel connected and held in the wild eternity and impermanence of being. I focused on love, love, love.
The party was perfect. James and I felt SO LOVED. We tried to spend a little time with every person, and at the point when the party was too full to allow me to greet each person at length, I went around the patio of Virgil's Sea Room and I held each person in my arms. I hugged them well; this is some of what I love most about California: we hug here. I pressed my heart and throat and arms to dozens of people. I said: I love you, I am grateful to know you, thank you, I love you, over and over and over.
James and I woke this morning on the floor in the basement guest room of our San Francisco house-sister Jennifer, and through our sleep we heard her family get ready for school over our heads, as we did for so many years in San Francisco when their flat was above our flat. We took long, hot baths in the claw-footed tub, and we marvelled together at how we felt not pain but strength. We feel so loved, so held, so supported. Over and over our friends said: I am glad you are doing this, I am so happy for you. I am reading your story. I am with you. Your generosity in loving us and in letting us go, in making clear to us that leaving is parting and not parting, this is one of the greatest gifts we have ever known. So many sailors say that their loved ones cannot move past fear to embrace the journey and beg them not to go. You are magnficent. Thank you.
We asked to receive no physical gifts, as your ship is small and we have filled it already, and you heard us. Thank you for respecting our wishes. Also, though, Jra took us aside, and she handed us a card. It contained a list of dozens of people who chipped in for a parting gift. Friends, colleagues, lovers, mentors, students; people from so many parts of our life. Jenifer included every name, and we see them, and we thank you. The card encouraged us to to spend your gift on "something that you've wanted but have held back on that will help you along the journeys!"
Darlings, we have debated for a year and a half whether to replace our chart plotter. The chart plotter that 'joice came with works fine, but modern ones are much better to work with. There were so many places that we HAD to spend money that replacing the chart plotter was hard to justify. On the one hand, how could we not? The chart plotter tells you where you are and where to go; it's the mapping function of your boat. It is a large portion of the brain of the ship. On the other hand, we already have a chart plotter, and it works fine. Thanks to you, though, instead of cussing and squinting and pushing buttons and waiting for scale changes, we'll have a beautiful, responsive touchscreen. This will make every day that we sail happier and safer for us.
Thanks, too, to Gabe, for the Polaroids which illustrate this post, which we treasure.
Our years here with you have been wonderful beyond our wildest imagining. We carry you in our hearts as we aim onward, and we look forward to seeing you again.