Moving Through More Layers of Loss & Celebrating a Mental Health Break in Chicago, ILLINOIS
Potato Creek State Park >> Downtown Chicago, Illinois 85.9 miles, 1 hour, 50 minutes My computer simply needed an operating system update. If Burt were here, he would just take care of it but then I would miss out on the opportunity of learning how to diagnose the problem. I put it in a repair shop in a pride-filled neighborhood of Chicago, after which Cee and I headed over to the Navy Pier to ride the world-famous, 200' tall Centennial Wheel. When we were camping at Potato Creek, we drove north to a small town called Portage to meet up with a woman whom, as a teenager, I had once been very close with. At fifteen years old, I had already spent a year learning the ropes of the new discipline that I spent my high school career dedicated to. Beth joined our pageantry corps (or, tall flag team) when she was a freshman and she was placed right behind me in our daily, warm-up configuration. I knew back then that we had a special bond - I just couldn’t have imagined that it would be this. With three, young children in tow, Beth experienced the loss of her life partner six years ago. I knew I wanted to see her if it was possible (for her & her kids.) Heading into Chicago also meant that we might be able to spend more time with them. I didn’t play out the full ramifications of having the computer’s operating system updated, one of which is the fact that Burt’s imprint has now been wiped from our computer. Once more, he is gone and again I feel a deep sense of loss that is very hard to express in words. It’s a visceral feeling of a lump in my gut that I mainly just want to avoid feeling. Meanwhile, the computer needs to have many apps, like a web search tool for example, downloaded but I don’t want to be confronted with this pain. Burt was a computer programmer, so this was the final tether of Earthly physical (& intimate) connection between us. After a year and a half of depending on this life line, it is now gone. I didn’t even think to prepare myself for this…. And a rawness in my soul returns. I miss Burt and I lament how I took him, and all that he did and was for us, for granted. Ouch. We also had an acquaintance I know from our San Diego community who is traveling around the western part of the country, pulling a trailer with his wife. He and I had been corresponding via text in hopes that we could connect if possible. They were in Chicago for the weekend, as well. I needed help figuring out how to navigate operating Cee’s new fishing pole so I inquired with Wes if he could help with this. He was only too happy to bee of service so we met up early on a Saturday where Cee finally cast his rod into a pond and then the four of us enjoyed lunch together. I had forgotten that Wes too is a ‘widow,’ having lost his partner to a car accident three years before. I needed to talk about loss with him and his new wife as well as with Beth and her friend when we met up with them at an aquatic park in Forest Park later that day. Cee was thrilled to be in the water and to join in with a group of kids. I felt comforted simply being in the company of others who understood the journey that Cee and I have been on. Beth's friend, Jen, has three children like her, and was persuasive in encouraging us to spend the night at her luxury, high-rise in Oak Park. Taking us in like family, Cee enjoyed rough housing and running around her condo with inflatable swords with her seven-year old, playing video games in the boys' room and then splashing in the sixth-floor balcony pool. Meanwhile, I got to be an adult and talk about sex, love and loss with Jen. It was just what the Doctor ordered. ;) Jen then sent me to her gym with one of her guest passes the following morning, where I worked out and brought my heart-beat rate up by swimming a few laps in the pool before I enjoyed the hot tub and then stretched and breathed in the sauna. In the shower afterward, I finally had the beginning of the sobbing cry that I have been needing. "Help me, please," I begged as the hot water pelted my head. "I don't know what I'm doing," I cried, imaging Burt in my heartmind's eye. My Spirit lifted, and my bitchiness at bay (f0r now), it was time to head northeast around the lake and into the state of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.