Barkley and his bestie, Lily, are on the back deck, two long lead restrict how far they go. They roam the porch as I am standing by its railing watching the sun go down. The house I am renting is close enough to a lake, and I can see the sun fall over the horizon in a fiery glow of spectacular.
ME: This place is calling me, Barkley. Maybe because my daughter, a huge part of my heart lives here, and I feel a bit fuller. Or maybe the Finger Lakes has everything I’ve been drawn to in my life – water, trees, beautiful Autumn colors, an artsy area, nice people, and stars. Did you see all those stars yesterday night? That navy blue, with white, shiny polka-dots filled me which such deep emotion. I lay in my bed looking out the window for hours. My stomach squeezed with longing for Peter, remembering how he loved the stars. He would have loved everything here. Maybe that’s why I feel fuller. I feel a connection to him. Or maybe fuller is the way most people feel on a successful vacation.
Lily’s head is down as her interest in the scents at her feet. Barkley chases a leave as it skips over the deck in a tease. When Barkley gets close, the wind picks it up and guides it to the ground below.
ME: Maybe next time, Champ.
As Barkley scouts the deck looking for another leaf prey, Lily comes alongside me and stands, her eyes out on the horizon. Perhaps she’s taking in the beauty as she always held feelings I haven’t seen in other dogs. I take a deep breath in and feel the cold crisp air hit my lungs. I hold it for a few seconds and then release it. I am calmed by this.
ME: Lily, I have seen and felt God here. See, I’ve lost the faith I once carried since Peter died. I’ve talked and cried about it because I know that faith is not coming back. I can no longer view God as this genie granting all my wishes, or rewarding the good and punishing the bad. I am no longer drawn to attend a building to praise and honor God. Instead, I am starting to see God’s revelation in all of nature and people. I see God in smiles, in kind words, in the lake that fills then recedes, in the rain, in the trees that have held on for hundreds of years, in the…well, you get it. And here, in this place, and in all the places I have been since I got here, God is popping up everywhere. I feel God. My heart swells with God. It’s almost as if I have reached a higher level of understanding God, and I am thankful. And it is in those moments and every moment after where I praise and give thanks. I carry those moments with me in my morning prayers and petition God to be in me so others see God in me. Confusing? Sure But it is starting to make sense to me.
Barkley joins us and stands at Lily’s side. Barkley shivers a bit, and I know his time, perhaps my time and Lily’s time is ending on the deck as well. The last blasts of yellows and reds have started to fade from the sun’s descent. I want more time, so I stand for a few more minutes.
ME: Just getting here and driving the 11 hours, guys, changed me. I pushed myself further and harder than I have in a very long time. But I knew I would get here. I knew because the Universe, God, wanted me here. I keep saying to my daughter, I felt drawn here. Maybe this place is what I needed. It’s where I am also understanding my fate of being alone, without Peter, and finally accepting it, no, embracing it. I miss Peter every day, and sure, I’ve been lonelier without him. And yet, this place, the things I’ve seen in the places I’ve gone, even now, in the quiet on this deck tonight, has shown me I embrace what I have now. It’s been another revelation or another turning point in a life that has turned so often in the past two-plus years, it dizzies me. And it has happened in a place I would have never probably have visited, by myself, like ever. What do they say? The truth is stranger than fiction? I suppose we all have our moments in life that change us. I started to be changed once Peter died, and now, I think I am beginning to embrace what change has given me, instead of holding onto what was, or wishing for something else. Huge, you know?
Barkley and Lily look up at me. Barkley moves closer to Lily in an effort to either get warmer or his normal move to make sure she accepts him. Barkley seeks that out in Lily often. Lily stays still and, well, accepts him. Lily accommodates Barkley’s needs, often.
ME: I thought the other day maybe I should move out here, get this feeling all year round. Only I’m not sure that’s how it works. It seems vacation places are special because of their limitations and the scarcity of their time. Perhaps what I should do, need to do, is take what I get and feel and learn, and bring it all back to my daily life. I should see how it fits and move from there. Nothing, and I mean, nothing, is permanent. Change can happen whenever, wherever, and I can make the changes. We’ll see. Until then, what a beautiful sunset tonight, and a beautiful place to visit.
I turn and walk back into the house. The two dogs bound ahead of me, leashes trailing behind. Once released, Lily jumps on the couch and curls up into a donut. I sit down, and Barkley jumps on my lap and looks up at me.
ME: I know, Bugs, we’re in this together.
Barkley lays down and curls into my belly. We are both at peace.