I learned earlier this week that a woman who played a significant role in inspiring this journey passed away last Sunday. Sitting at an open air restaurant in Ubud, I opened my iPhone for a quick peek and saw the words “Our lovely lovely Lisa” in the title of an email from my friend Debra and I knew. And tears rolled down my face. And I told my friend I wanted to go home. And we walked slowly along the dark, curving road and I looked up at the nearly full moon and I thought of Lisa, knowing she would never see such a sight again. And I stood still and I just sobbed.
I decided to take this journey for a number of reasons – but chief among them was my five-year “all’s clear” milestone last May. Knowing that five years sans cancer is a kind of big deal – and taking the “life is short” mantra at face value – I started planning. And my resolve to do this crazy thing was strengthened when I was reminded that not everyone beats this breast cancer stuff. That it can come back. Like it did for Lisa.
So for the last week as I’ve journeyed through the mountains and narrow lanes and rice paddies scattered around Bali – she has been on my mind. And until now I did not know how to write about her passing. I just knew that I wanted to. Because I will miss her and she has been with me, in spirit, throughout this journey. I told our friend Debra how very much she inspired me. And Debra kindly wrote back that my stories inspired Lisa as well.
And up until an hour ago I simply could not find the words around all of this. Because I had been trying to make SENSE of it all. The grief that has laced these last few days – coexisting somehow with the sheer joy I’ve felt upon seeing such exquisite beauty. Laughing wildly one minute with my dear friend Elizabeth and in the next, sitting at a Hindu temple, my feet dangling in the water, my eyes dripping tears. It all seemed so incongruous.
And what I have come to realize is that life just plain doesn’t make sense. It’s not neat and tidy – despite how very much I’ve always wanted it to be. Life is nonlinear and messy. Grief and joy can share the stage.
For whatever reason, I didn’t really grasp this concept until now. And I just exhaled deeply with gratitude that I am finally getting it. There is still a lot I don’t understand about this world. None of us ever really truly “gets it” I suppose. But some aspects are starting to become a little more clear.
Before I had this “aha moment” I was gazing at the ocean, listening to the ending of the audio version of the book “All The Light We Cannot See.” The narrator read the last few words, including the phrase “someone…falls out of the world…” And these beautiful words – they seem appropriate for Lisa. She has fallen out of our world. And as I type this I feel like the ocean is collecting in the back of my head, a saline taste gathering in my nose and leaking out my eyes. For in this moment … I am sad. Despite the magnificent view in front of me.