I don’t want to be here right now.
We’re living in Totem on the hardstand, on stilts in a Thai shipyard. There is a lot of noise, and a lot of dirt, and a lot of chaos. Chunks of Totem’s interior are torn up. We climb a wobbly ladder with a rise that must be double a normal step to get on board. We have no refrigeration. It is hot, under tropical sun during the day and in the breeze-less yard at night. We share communal bathrooms in the yard and try desperately to avoid needing them at night.
But our present circumstance has nothing to do with my discontent. I don’t want to be here right now because I lost someone I love, and today her memorial service was held back at home on Bainbridge Island.
We met as two moms, first crossing paths at preschool flanked by a pair of similarly aged daughters, later bonding at knitting guild meetings (best followed by a trip to the pub!). In the chaotic year of boat renovations and radical downsizing during the year before we left, Joan was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer, and our friendship shifted and deepened on the unstable path of an uncertain journey.
I wish I could be back there to honor her, and share that grief with others who loved her. And as much as my sadness today is for the passing this resolute optimist, it also mourns the hundreds of times I couldn’t help her. I couldn’t help in all the little ways that friends make life easier for each other, as she fought one battle after another with her traitorous body.
This, for me, is the hardest part of cruising. Our funds don’t include the kind of cushion that can absorb traveling home. Leaving on our adventure meant making peace with this very significant trade-off. We miss big events like this, and the weddings and graduations. We cannot be present for the many other milestones in the lives of our friends and family.
Last year, my parents flew me home to help them filter and pack up thirty years of memories from a house, and thanks to them I had the gift of many hugs from people I love- including getting to spend time with Joan. Knitting, making bad jokes, tucked under a blanket, sharing our hopes, I know she was so happy for me to follow my dreams. That just doesn’t make it easier at this moment.
She indelibly marked my life. How lucky we are, pure and simply just LUCKY, all critical stars of our world aligned to make our family’s journey possible. Because for all our plans and dreams and intentions, this life is incredibly fragile, and Joan has made me grateful for every day we get. And it’s this I tried to remember as I sat in the anchorage with with news on my lap of her passing, the sting of salt water on my cheeks. That she was happy for me, and didn’t resent the absence I lament.
It’s always appreciated when you click through to read this on the Sailfeed website.