Sunday, January 24, 2010

To Big Sur with Love

big sur campground & cabins - night 5
Originally uploaded by gorgol

I had a very nice weekend. It left me missing Michael in a profound way, but the experience was well worth the tears.

My boys and I arrived in Big Sur in the early afternoon. It rained the whole way there, but was a very soothing rain. We checked into the campground, and went straight to our cabin. Both boys were very excited, as the cabin was a beautiful pine wood, and everything well cared for. After eating some sandwiches we had brought we headed over to Nepenthe Restaurant where some of our group had gone for lunch. Driving over the hill to that end of Big Sur was amazing, as it was completely dry, and full of sun. Nepenthe has these long rows of outdoor seating. They are set up as very long outdoor counters, with chairs along them. You have a meal, glass of wine, or dessert, and just gaze at the grandeur of nature. It's breathtaking. Anyway, the boys each ordered a slice of their 4 layer chocolate fudge cake, which each looked like a quarter of the cake. They were huge. It was actually very funny to see their expression when the cake arrived. I enjoyed a tall coffee with Kahlua. Mmmn, very tasty.

The view south
Originally uploaded by hjw3001

After catching up with our friends we headed back to the campground so that everyone could get ready for a long hike. It started raining a bit harder, so my boys decided they would rather stay at the camp and play basketball. The rest of us headed over to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park for our hike. By this time the rain was really coming down, but it just added to the fun time. We first headed up the Valley View Trail, which takes you through the beautiful redwood trees, which are contrasted with eucalyptus. All this, with the fresh falling rain, was just spectacular. The smell of the eucalyptus always makes me feel as though I am walking through a large outdoor spa. Once we got to the top of the trail the rain stopped, and the sky opened up with the glorious sun shining down on us. This gave us the opportunity to marvel at the wonder of mother nature. After taking all this in we headed back down, the across to the Pheiffer Falls Trail. I had not been to the falls before, as both times Michael and I tried to hike there the park was closed for one reason or another. Today it was open, although the direct area around the falls was closed off with ropes and warning signs due to the rain induced mud-slides. I stood there and thought, what are they going to do? Escort us out for trespassing? There was no one around, so it was a perfect time to venture up on our own. This is where I got out some of Michael's ashes. First I let some fall into the water that moved down and around the hills. I then put some into the stone wall where the falls come down.

pfeiffer falls, up close
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!

I miss Michael so much, but today's missing Michael was a bit different. I missed him in a very communal way. Everyone I was with loved Michael so much. They all had so many stories to tell, and each had eyes full of tears when sharing them. I love these people, and appreciated all that they did for Michael. Each of them contributed so much to our relationship, each contributed so much when Michael was sick, and each has contributed to me since his death.

After breakfast we checked out of our cabins, and drove further south to the Partington trail, that surprisingly lead to the Partington Cove. It's a beautiful cove that is currently all underwater, but surrounded by high cliff of large rock and boulders. This was the site for our memorial celebration of Michael. Craig brought the small urn I gave him after Michael's original memorial, and another friend, Jen, brought a colorful bouquet of flowers. We all sat of the rocks, and shared thoughts and memories of Michael. Craig then carefully walked over to the edge, and poured some of Michael's ashes into the ocean. The rest of us, one by one, took a flower to toss into the water below. When everyone was finished I went and sat at the edge, and quietly scattered more of the ashes I had brought. Soon my son Remy came and sat next to me. Which was quite brave of him, as he has a fear of heights. I tell you, I sat there looking down into the violently splashing water, and for a moment thought, "just jump in." I didn't mean it in a harmful way, but there was definitely a voice within planting the idea. The others must have heard it too, because I was soon surrounded by a few friends, wanting to engage me in other thoughts. I made a comment about floating in the water with all the flowers, and the others quickly said, "that's not going to happen."

Partington Cove
Originally uploaded by fotios

Once I was away from the edge, a few of the others came over to give me very tight and loving hugs and kisses on the cheek. I realized in that moment that it had been so long since I've been held by another adult. I've had some short hugs by friends at work, but to have a prolonged solid hug, well, it felt as though Michael was holding me. It was such a nice feeling.

After all of this, the boys and I climbed into our car, and started our drive back to San Francisco. The boys were noticing every detail of the view as we drove. They said they had such a good time, and loved getting to be in a place that Michael loved. It was wonderful sharing this with them. I promised the boys we would come back during the summer, and stay at one of the resorts for a week.


  1. wow, great friends, great memories, great views. There is something cathartic about grieving with friends - it feels as though you are less alone for a while ...and I loved that people waited till you were away from the edge till they hugged you ;-)

    Well done, I am proud of you ... another step in your journey, and what a beautiful place to let Michael run free xxx

  2. plenty of tears from me, dan. comming across the photos is what broke it for me. need i say more? lol u can come to aust, eucalyptus everywhere! well duh, its native here. anyways :)

  3. What an amazing and magical weekend for you, your boys and Michael's friends. I very much appreciate your openness and honesty in writing about how you felt at the edge. Also, your acknowledgment of how you have not had hugs/physical contact from adults in the recent past. These are aspects of grief that people don't feel comfortable talking about and sharing. I second Boo's, "Well done!" and hope that the energy, peace and comfort you were given this weekend will continue to uphold you in the days ahead. Also, what a great trip to look forward to this summer when you return with the boys!

  4. Sounds like you had a wonderful time with some terrific friends. Neat that your boys enjoyed being there too. I'm familiar with that "jumping into the abyss" feeling when looking down into swirling waters along the Oregon and California coast. Experienced it a few times on this year's journey. Maybe I always had such thoughts but am just noticing it more now that I'm alone.

  5. such beautiful photos of an awe-inspiring place. that prolonged solid hug. that's what someone who grieves needs, craves. that embrace that silently says, "i am here for you for as long as you want/need me." i remember that weekend in San Diego, leaving the table to sob outside....and you came to me and sat with me. even then i couldn't speak to grief, but you sat with me. being with you guys then, for that moment in time, is all i have had in the way of communal grief. and yet, i have held on to it all this time. because it meant so much.

    i am glad you have such a community around you. i am glad you have the ocean. i am glad you have love again. you are a very special person. i am honored to have met you.

    i wish you peace.