We ran away this weekend. It was very long overdue. Winter is hard here for us with the very limited light (although I easily admit that since it has been “very dry” in Western Washington terms, I’ve enjoyed it more). This winter has been worse.
In December a colleague of mine – my age, married with three kids (6th grade and 3rd) – was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer just before Christmas Break. It blew my mind. As someone who is well-connected in our community through his coaching, teaching, university studies, growing up nearby, etc – the hundreds – and literally thousands of people who have come forward to offer support for he and his family is amazing. There are little pieces we all contribute – mostly watching over the hundreds of students at school who have had – and are having – a very difficult time with this. My friends at work – his coaching buddies for years through baseball and football – are complete wrecks.
And then another colleague (my age) committed suicide on the last day of February.
I have been speechless and riddled with anxiety, grief, tears, and funny memories of my very sassy friend who killed himself and well… speechless.
He leaves behind two boys (one 6th grader, and the other in elementary school) who adored him. He was an excellent father. A hilarious, passionate colleague – and beyond that – a troubled soul who struggled his whole life with depression.
And then winter dragged on. The rain came back. The clocks all changed. And the stress of the year began to eat at me.
Frequently, my little band of 3 and I find ourselves on day trips or weekend “adventures”. In the winter, with work, these “adventures” can be as exciting as filling the freezer by stocking up at Costco. Yes, we are that exciting. This March, even the simple pleasures of watching a movie together could not ease the pains of loss. We thought about traveling for a few days to get away to places we have enjoyed in the past… but you know what?
I just didn’t want to work that hard.
I didn’t want to have to research/look-up everything, call restaurants, plan our adventures by a map with not only gluten-free but kid-friendly options nearby. I just didn’t. I don’t mind that traveling may not only sometimes be a bit more costly (because swinging through the random coffee shop or sandwich shop will not always produce a gluten-free option at a low-cost). That’s just the name of the game.
But this time around, I really just wanted to relax. With my kids. And no cell phones, televisions, pesky to-do lists, mail to sort, email to answer, etc And I certainly didn’t want to spend my vacation time with my nose in my cell phone trying to find a gluten-free option for dinner as we strolled through our afternoon. (Hey…it’s been known to happen when we just get in the car and go!)
I remember this little mountain retreat place that I had been to 8 years ago. It is a renovated mountain camp – much like one you may have been to as a kid – but with updated furnishings, towel warmers in the bathroom, trails between “cabins” (duplex cabin-esque units) and random Chihuly blown glass art sculptures. Oh yes, and an outdoor bar with its own waterfall. It definitely feels like someone who wanted to go “camping” but well… not really.
In other words, it sounded perfect. We could unplug. We could explore. The kids could be outside. And the weather was 68-72F during the day with sunshine and a 32F cold (perfect for sleeping) at night. My kind of place.
The best part? I didn’t have to even think about dinner nor brunch. Once we made our reservations, I let them know that I had Celiac and would need a gluten-free meal option.
HA! An option! The restaurant (on site) was a gluten-free haven. Oh – and the majority of the food served was locally grown. It was great – for every meal (buffet style) we ate there, I could eat all entrée mains (except one each meal), they had fresh gluten-free bread options for the asking, gluten-free dessert options (gf chocolate cake, white chocolate creme brulee, etc), all gluten-free salad dressings, all gluten-free salad options separated from the non-gf items in the salad bar, etc. Honestly. There was too much food. (Don’t worry, we survived that disappointment…LOL)
In fact, there was so much available to me that I couldn’t help but find myself mystified why the two entrees (two different meals) that I could NOT eat were NOT made gluten-free as well. It would have been so easy to do. (For the record, it was a pork rack roast and the next day, a ham.) I mean really. Could they not use tamari?
AND FINALLY, my Love and I laughed.
Seriously – how many times have we traveled together when the only safe option for me were some plain leafy greens or something less than joyful for a food-lover like me? And here I was, in a buffet-style restaurant with so many gluten-free options that my brain focused on what I could NOT have?!
We began to discuss how often in life we condition ourselves to see that we are trained to see. In work. With kids. With each other. With my Celiac Disease. Surrounded by the food that the servers/chefs could easily answer the gluten-free question for me and there I was, stuck on that stinking rack roast.
And there I have been all March. Stuck on the loss of my colleague and the impending loss of another.
Everyday my little people and I sing loudly (and out of tune) together in the car. They always request their favorites. I rarely am one to quote song lyrics, but their latest song has caught my mind. The song is called “Carry On” by the group FUN. The lyrics (in part) say this:
…If you’re lost and alone
Or you’re sinking like a stone
May your past be the sound
Of your feet upon the ground
I’m sure I will have my damn-it, it’s not-gluten-free moments again.
I know I will continue to grieve the loss of my friends.
And I also know that the sun will shine, my kids will keep laughing, and we will all carry on. There are many worse things in this world that having to avoid gluten. I have never thought it was the end of my world. I guess I just forgot to look up at the path ahead of me sometimes to see those little feet marching on. So please forgive my latest absence. I’ve been busy bringing my soul back from the depths of grief and setting my eyes on those little feet in the picture.
May your Spring be bringing you out of a dark winter with Love as well -