At the foot of this mountain town lies the cemetery on a gentle bench overlooking the valley where the mighty Columbia River flows. A colleague explained how she manages her stress related to her work. Every time she drove home, she dropped off her worries at the cemetery and picked them up as she went down to the clinic or hospital. I was a young physician at the time, and I admired her ability and skill. Her example planted a seed of understanding that it may be possible to let go of troubles or at least have a reprieve. I had yet to embody this advice.
Early Sunday morning, I head to the hospital down this same hill. It is quiet, with no traffic. The temperatures are freezing, and the road is slippery. I take my time and do not rush. Noticing the cemetery, my friend joins me in the car. On the other side of the road is the exit to a young colleague and friend’s home. He jumps into the vehicle alongside her.
Grief is visiting and cleverly attempting to stay. The longing for things to be different is grabbing hold.
Shaken by your absence, my soul searches for you when my mind’s asleep, and every morning I wake up in tears because you’re always here although you’re never here.
Memories follow me. Their presence feels so tangible, and yet it isn’t, as if here but not here. It is in the response that I have a choice.
Noticing grief and sitting with my thoughts a shift occurs. The emotions transforms into a celebration of their lives. Gratitude to have known them is replacing these longing thoughts. The clouds of delusion begin to dissipate, and the sun, now, can shine through.
It is a new day, fresh snow has fallen overnight. The winter birds are joyfully singing, and playful voices of children fill the air. The children are bundled in their colourful snowsuits or jackets and toques, running and playing on the white covered streets.
The flashing yellow-orange lights of the snowplows, the transit busses, the logging trucks fill the highway. Passing cars join me on the slushy road as I navigate my way down the hill towards the hospital. The cemetery and the turn-off have not moved but are unnoticed this morning as if they do not exist. My friends were resting peacefully and did not need a ride. Instead, I concentrated on my driving.