February 21st arrives for the 66th time – Traveling the Land of the Ancients, Part Five

Ray and I followed the sun today.
Ray and I followed the sun today.
No, it is not like the movie Groundhog Day, but I realized as Ray and I wandered the canyons of Moab today that I have experienced the 21st of February 66 times. Wow, 66 times!!

The first time that I awoke to February 21st I was a few days short of my first birthday. I was living in Vancouver, Canada with my parents and two sisters.

World War II had ended just five years before and the moon was a place to look at, not land on.

I was the youngest of three sisters
I was the youngest of three sisters

The seventh time I woke up on February 21st the cell phone had not been invented. In fact our phone was attached to the wall and an operator said hello when someone picked up the hand piece.

“Who would you like to call,” she would ask.

I loved LA with the orange trees and being able to swim all year.
I loved LA with the orange trees and being able to swim all year.

The 14th time I woke up to February 21st I was a teenager living in West Covina, California.

The Beatles had appeared on Ed Sullivan for the first time two weeks before. John F Kennedy had been assassinated three months before and five months before our family had immigrated to the United States.

1968   I was 17 and Bruce was 20
1968 I was 17 and Bruce was 20
The 18th time I experienced this date in February, I was in love with this “really cool” guy named Bruce Brink. We had met at a party my girl friends and I had found while “cruising” in Pasadena.

Bruce and I married less than a year later. We both felt quite mature and old. I chuckle now when I look at this picture of us. We were so young!

Bruce sent me this photo of him in a hooch in Vietnam. He seemed a more than a world away.
Bruce sent me this photo of him in a hooch in Vietnam. He seemed a more than a world away.
The 19th time that February 21st rolled around, Bruce and I were living in Alabama.

That February 21st we had just found out Bruce was being sent to Vietnam. Our world changed. Nothing seemed safe any more. Life seemed precarious and yet more precious.

We lived in the forest in a little cabin - a happy hippy chick.
We lived in the forest in a little cabin – a happy hippy chick.
The 25th time I woke up on February 21st I was a hippy chick, back-to-the-lander living in Southern Oregon. Bruce and I had two little boys and acres of trees and hills where they could play.

I cooked on a wood stove and bathed in a large tin tub by a fire.

My daughter-in-law Jessi helped build a garden when she and my son Adam came to visit.
My daughter-in-law Jessi helped build a garden when she and my son Adam came to visit.
The 57th time I woke up on February 21st the world had shifted again. My four sons were grown. I had two grandchildren.

AND I was a widow. What a weird term. It cannot describe the titling of the world and the creation of a new life that occurs after a loved one dies.

The pictures of that year show a tired woman surrounded by family.

That first year after Bruce died  I planted flowers and painted flowers.
That first year after Bruce died I planted flowers and painted flowers.
The pictures also show the beginnngs of life “after.”

I was Shaun without Bruce, but by my 57th February 21st I had also been just Shaun for almost 10 months. I was beginning to be Shaun in the land of a new “after.”

I painted flowers and planted flowers and learned to live fully after loss.

I rode through Yellowstone on the back of Ray's Harley.
I rode through Yellowstone on the back of Ray’s Harley.
By the time that February 21st dawned for the 61st time I was discovering I could have love for Bruce and love for my new life, including for my buddy Ray.

By that day I had ridden on the back of a Harley through Yellowstone and South Dakota. I had taken my own solo rode trip through the Rockies. I had even put a profile up on Match.com, though it turned out my best friend Ray was to be my new love.

I cherished every moment of today.
I cherished every moment of today.
Today it is the 66th time that I have experienced February 21st.

In the past few years I have held seven new grandchildren and three new daughter-in-laws. I have retired from working in child welfare and traveled to Malaysia, Alaska, the southwest US and Minnesota.

I have faced a forest fire, landslide, flood and frozen water pipes.

I have grieved the death of my son Robin and found joy in marrying my buddy Ray.

I am glad to have this day.
I am glad to have this day.

Yet for all the years and experiences, losses and loves it is this day that is truly important.

Ray and I celebrated this day following the setting sun through the canyons of Moab, Utah. I truly mean we celebrated this day. It was not a birthday or an anniversary. It was simply a day of being alive.

Maybe that is the lesson of this day. Life is now and here and precious. I am glad to have had this day.

Wishing all of you the present moment, the present day.

To Be continued

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