And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
Being here is so much.
All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.
–Julian of Norwich
I arrived yesterday in my favorite place in the world, a little house next to the Pacific Ocean in Waldport, Oregon. But my landing at the airport in Portland wasn’t so gentle. Months ago, I arranged a package deal with Expedia which included a phenomenal rate on a rental car. I thought I’d paid in advance for all of it, but when I got to the rental counter, they told me I hadn’t. We went through round after round, which included the absolutely ridiculous “We can’t accept your business’ credit/debit card because it doesn’t have your personal name on it, and you have to pay with something that has the name of the driver on it,” which ultimately ended with me leaving the counter in tears and heading back to the airport, figuring I’d just have to give up and go home.
A man at a different rental counter saw me crying and asked what was going on. When I told him, we hunkered down together and he figured out where the mistake was and we fixed it. When I called the original rental company and explained, they said my car was “gone”, and “there aren’t any others.” The nice man at the new counter said he had cars and he rented me one. Which was wonderful. But it was also a rent-on-the-day-of price…seven times more expensive than the great deal I thought I had.
I took it. I thanked the nice man profusely and I drove out of there and three hours to the ocean in tears. I’d just used money that was earmarked to pay for our COBRA insurance for the next couple months, until the insurance from Michael’s new job starts up. There was nothing to replace it.
I felt like the most selfish woman, no, human being on the face of the earth. Not only was I on this trip by myself in the first place, but now I used the only money I had saved up for our insurance. Rather than turning around and going home. I chose myself over practicality. But it didn’t make me feel good. I was wracked with guilt and shame.
Things happen to me in Oregon, at this house. I can’t explain them. Some say “the veil” is thin. Maybe it is, if there is a “veil” at all. But when I arrived to my little house, I was ragged and miserable. I dropped everything on the counter and table, ran through the house, threw open the patio doors, and chugged down the dune to the beach. I don’t think I’ve ever moved so fast across sand. And then I stood by the ocean and amazed myself when the first words out of my mouth were, “You told me I was on the right path, but you didn’t tell me that included breast cancer!” I thought I’d cried in the car. I thought I’d cried over the last year. That wasn’t even close to the rip tide that came out of me then.
Did I mention that yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the day my routine mammogram became not routine at all?
(By the way – if you don’t know the story of the sand dollar and how I was told I was on the right path, it was in the original Today’s Moment blog series. It will be included in the book when it’s released in September.)
When I got my voice back, I just said, “Help me. Help me. Help me.” Over and over. The ocean, a distance from me, rolled in then, and stopped just at my feet.
I don’t ask for help. I do things myself. It’s the best way to get things done.
By the time I went to bed, I was still frazzled. A much-loved student emailed to let me know he was sending something to help me with the unexpected car bill and that I needed to stay in Oregon to rest and heal. I also received my final bill from the place where I hold the studio’s retreat. In it was a note that they were giving me a discount because of issues with the wifi there. I barely noted these things and then I fell into bed. I slept for 13 hours. The ocean is a lullaby. It’s a mantra.
It wasn’t until the morning that the math rose up in my brain. Are you ready for this?
I cried to the ocean, “Help me. Help me. Help me.”
The amount that the student is sending me and the amount of the discount received from the retreat place, added together, comes to within two dollars of what I had to spend on the rental car. Two dollars…to the better.
I walked out to the ocean this morning. I didn’t wait for her to come to me, but I walked out to where the waves curled in and then stopped at my toes. “Thank you,” I said. And then I repeated it with every step of my morning walk.
I am not a person of faith. Nor do I subscribe to any religion.
But the veil is thin here. My shoulders loosen and I breathe better. At home and in the studio, I am the penultimate caretaker…but here, I am taken care of. I am heard.
All will be well and all will be well. Thank you.
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.