Saturday, June 18, 2005

"I get by with a little help from my friends" - Beattles

Today turned out to be a gorgeous day and two of my good friends I have met through learning ASL (American Sign Language) and I went to the annual Deaf and Deaf/Blind picnic in Seattle. We met one of our new friends there who just moved here from the east coast. The food was great! It seemed people at all of our dishes.

Afterwards, we decided to take a walk down by the beach (for those who know the area, I am referring to the fantastic Lincoln Park of Seattle). The park was packed and all the shelters were taken. At the beach there were people swimming, children playing in the water and on logs, people walking their dogs, and some on bicycles.

Even though the path was flat, I was acutely aware of my difficulty negotiating my balance. At the picnic, a man has asked me in sign if I was ok. There was no alcohol there so I do not think he misinterpreted me as being drunk. He seemed to understand when I explained briefly why I might have been traversing from tree to tree and grasping on to each one.

As I walked I could not help but think of when I lived in the area and had rollerbladed and ran along the path with full freedom of mobility. Reminiscing about this made me sad. I could not help but think about my youth just only a year or so ago. I tried to block it out of my mind and instead focused on walking the path.

Then we decided to sit on a log for a short bit to admire the mountains painted perfectly behind the sea and the sailboats bobbing on their moorings near the ferry dock. It was sort of a challenge to navigate safely over to the logs so I picked one closeby.

Our one friend grew up on the Monterey Coast and was overjoyed to play on the beach again just as though she were a kid again. I watched her excitedly run to the water. At the same time, I noticed two small children dancing from driftwood log to another and I found myself entranced. I thought of the days when all of this was thrilling for me and jumping among the logs or rocks was an easy skill.

I turned my focus back to my friends playing along the shore. The waves gently pushed forward the bright green sea lettuce that was so familiar to me. In the sun, the wet pebbles glimmered in a multitude of colors against the grey brown sand. As I looked into the waves and smelled the sea salt all I could think about were the days not so very long ago of diving on the shores of Puget Sound and my love of the beach.

It was all exhilerating yet utterly overwhelming. It seemed everywhere I looked was a reminder of who I used to be and what I loved so much about life. My heart was crushed! It was as though someone just delivered the harsh blow that my husband or one of my loved ones was instantly killed in a devastating crash! I became crippled in a wave of emotion I could no longer escape from.

Now I know how my dear friend's mother felt when I went to visit her family shortly after her death. Anne Marie was killed instantly in a head on collision just a few days before Christmas. I thought it might make her mother feel better if I brought her a nice bouquet of flowers. The moment she saw me and the flowers in my hand she broke out into a fit of tears. I felt horrible I did something to offend her. I later discovered that Anne Marie regularily brought her mom a bouquet of fresh flowers when she came home from college.

At the moment the same feeling of grief overcame me. I tried very hard to hold it back because I did not want to ruin the good time my friends were having. The more I held it in, the worse it became. Since I can no longer shed tears or cry I started hyperventilating hysterically. My friends inquired if I was ok and of course I responded that I was. I tried my darndest to hide it but it got to the point that I could not even speak and it was becoming difficult to breath.

I did not want them to leave the shore but of course they did. I was not even capable of explaining what was happening. They came over to where I sat on the log and helped me get into the rythym of taking slow deep breaths. I had to concentrate extremely hard to do so. Everytime I looked back out at the water or the beach I would just lose it again. Thus I either had to look at my friend gesturing to take deep breaths or look straight down at the log.

I picked up a couple rocks and focused on them. In the meantime, our one friend whipped out her little pocket knife and began to build a boat. When the task was complete she went down to the water, whipped off her shoes and socks, rolled up her pant legs, and braved the frigid Puget Sound water to set the boat asail.

My other friend and I watched intently and laughed at the playful sight. It worked! Her boat that she built was bobbling away down the shore in the waves. When she returned we began to rock hunt where we sat and I began to spill out my limited knowledge of minerology and interesting tidbits of geology. LOL We found lots of rocks referred to as "gneiss" and I cracked my joke about the "nice" rocks.

They intently listened and laughed at my silly jokes. I continued on about the similarities and differences between the geology of Puget Sound and the various places I had visited on the Italian coast. The shift in attention toward the boat building experiment and my incessant ranting on about rocks and geology seemed to stop the hyperventilating episode. I was actually breathing normally and talking again.

Thanks Laura and Melody! My day would not have been the same without you!


Laura said...

Once again you have touched my heart in a way that mere words cannot accurately express. Today will always have a special place in my heart and it is I who would like to thank you. Your relentless determination to live life to the fullest in the face of adversity is inspirational. I am grateful and honored to be your friend and I cherish the moments we spend together. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

right on babygirl, you have awesome friends! Angel

Steven said...

You're my inspiration, Becks! I'm rooting for you! Any support I can can give is yours!

Also, my wife is harping on me again to pull up roots and move out there. We both fell in love with the area when on a travel writing assignment. Maybe we'll meet face-to-face one day and the four of us can go out to dinner. ;)

Rebecca said...

Yes despite everything I am truly blessed!

Steven it is awesome out here! Both my friends Angel and Laura are transplants like myself.

It is hard not to fall in love with the NW. Come on out! We will be waiting for you!

P.S. - The thai and indian food out here is fantastic!

Anonymous said...

Yeah Steven we can show you some awesome sights, dude!!!