In just a few hours. I will walk, gently, down a quiet lane, which, on a busy day, ten vehicles drive to the beach here at Kalloni village on the isle of Lesbos, Greece. Once I locate a vacant umbrella I’ll deposit my bag and towel, disrobe (save my swimsuit), put on my swim shoes and walk gently, just a few feet to take a dip in the clear waters of our Mediterranean Sea.
I fell three times last year, once one evening, on a walk in January with Max. We were taking one of our brisk after dinner walks when I stumbled flat on my face, over a protruding crack in the sidewalk. I could feel myself flying, as if in slow motion, putting my hands out to cushion my contact with the cement, yet somehow knowing I must relax and let go. The look on Max’s face showed his concern – he heard the crack as i fell – and because I took my time to get up. Once on my feet I walked home, holding his hand. I felt like a small child and I cried, big time. I took a hot shower, Max brought me a bag of frozen peas and I went to bed. My chin took the brunt of it. I hurt for a week. The chin bump decreased in size in a month. I broke nothing, no scrapes on my hands nor torn jeans to remind me of the fall. At the time I asked myself what was I thinking about before I fell?… I hurt too much to make the connection. There were no marks on the pavement where I fell.
The second time, in March, I fell over my dog Mocha, as I was getting out of the shower. I moved one way, she the other, splat on my butt! No harm, no foul, I dusted myself off, got dressed, and went about my day. I was thinking about Max … He had not yet been diagnosed with cancer.Mocha is a good dog…she’s excitable and I can be clumsy.
The third time I fell last year was late August, maybe two weeks after Max passed into the great beyond. I was definitely thinking about him… Or rather I was not present in my body. I was out walking in the morning with my sweet, large dogs Mocha and Buck. My nephew Jake accompanied me, he was walking Buck, my husky. I was holding Mochas leash, attempting to walk her. This was a mistake. Mocha is a chocolate lab, I found her on the 210 freeway Polk Street on ramp …in March of last year. I didn’t have much time to train her since shortly after her rescue I was trying to rescue Max from cancer. Needless to say she was not well trained and as we walked, she saw another dog and dragged me a few feet. I got a couple scrapes on my hands, sobbed deeply, handed mochas leash to Jake, hobbled home and went back to bed. I knew why I had fallen. I wanted to be with Max…wherever he was.
Here in Greece, the weather at this time of year is warm, hotter later in the day, except for the breeze that normally rises, making the hot sun slightly more bearable. This year is no exception. I’m using sunscreen with SPF 30, sometimes, when I remember. I also bought a hat a few days ago in the nearby village of Skala Kalloni. After rifling through and trying on dozens of straw hats, thinking “these are boring”‘, I discovered my hat – black, a large floppy brim, with bits of color (see below); it was the only black beach hat in a sea of beige, even though black is normally not “my” color and even though the size was marked the same as the countless hats I tried on in front of the mirror before this one, it fit. “Yes, its mine, my search is complete, here’s my 9 euro,”. The smiling shopkeeper tells me he’s only charging me 8 euro because he loves my smiling, happy face …he also hands me a tiny elephant candle and says, “a gift!” I melt.My mother knew how to shop for a bargain, so its in my genes. She instilled in me the ability to recognize value, to not buy something merely because its cheap and when to quit looking. Over the course of the last few decades, buying provisions and some frivolity for myself, husbands (I’ve had three- Max, the one really, very good one) family and friends, I’ve honed my skills quite well.
I knew I had a deal in buying this hat, my hat. I also understood at that moment how lucky I am; I began once again to count my blessings and went down my list of thanks (not necessarily in this order but its how I now remember) * I got a deal on my hat * I am here in Greece * I’m alive & my health is improving daily* our sun is shining * I’m eating good, healthy food – especially when I go to Ambrosia restaurant in Skala Kalloni square * i love dearly my sweet family – Julia & Billy & Gracie & Christian, grandson Levi, nephew Jake & of course, my beloved Max, my dear teacher – Aristhaia, my loyal hounds – Dot, Dash, Buck & Mocha, my dear – and many friends: Marcy, Michelle, Nunei, Genie …to name but a few (if you’re reading this and I haven’t mentioned you, get over it, you know who you are and how my memory is recovering -thankfully- from the fog of grief). My list goes on…and on…it’s a daily thing, my list of thanks, growing as my smile does too. Each of these people/items are priceless – man I sound like an ad for MasterCard – but it’s true, they are more valuable than all my Craigslist deals or ebay finds (even if Max used to kvell about my knack of making a deal to friends).
I’ve learned so much this year, how very precious my life and all of life, is. We take for granted our lives, that is, until something moves us out of our busy-ness. I have had many opportunities to really learn and change – to wake up to my world, to become who I was meant to be, to make a difference to myself, then to others. We step through our world with feet mostly insensitive to our earth below us – She feels us, our planet, even when we do not recognize her. Only when we fall do we remember we are here at all. Each time I get it a bit more…recently I get the connection, my connection, to all of it… My/Our earth, My life.This morning I will feel our earth through my shoes, our water as I enter her, regard the life below and around me as I tread softly so neither I nor the world, my world, our world is harmed. And I will once again and in a new way, recite my new list of things and people for which I am thankful.