August 15, 2011
Thanks to all those who have sent condolences and prayers – I am deeply grateful. The last couple of days have been somewhat surreal ... said a teary goodbye to Alana early yesterday morning at the Dublin airport (more about our Dublin experience in a later blog) and then began the trek back to Ballycastle.
First, the bus to Belfast, and then a three and a half hour wait for the “Antrim Coaster”, which would get me to Ballycastle about 6:15. In fact, Alana landed in Toronto about 45 minutes before my bus got into Ballycastle.
I was kind of dreading the long day alone, but in fact it was quite bearable – plopped myself at a nice cafe with jazz music playing, bought myself a Sunday Times, and spent several hours catching up on world news and reading analyses of the London riots. Then, the sun was shining, so I walked across the street to the pub to continue reading, have a bottle of Heineken, and sit in the sun at an outdoor table. It was right outside the Crown Liquor Saloon and Europa Hotel, so great people watching too.
The Antrim Coaster takes twice as long to get to Ballycastle as the other bus from Belfast, but is 10 times more picturesque. Plus, the other bus doesn’t run on Sundays, so I didn’t really have a choice. The last time I took it, it was rainy and foggy, so couldn’t see much. Alana and I were going to take it last week to Belfast, but again it was rainy and foggy. Yesterday was the weather I’ve been experiencing in Northern Ireland often – rainy and sunny – which I’ve discovered is perfect rainbow weather.
I must have seen at least six different rainbows as we wound our way along the coast. I was snapping my camera madly out the window as we careened around twists and turns in the road, hoping that some would turn out. At one point, I realized that there were raindrops on the window – reminded me of that old country song (or maybe it’s just one of those country songs someone wished they had written?...) “I’m looking out the window through my pain” ... (or is it pane?)
Anyway, somehow the rainbows were comforting to me - always a sign of joy and hope, and promise. When I got back, not many knew what had happened, so there was always an awkward pause when folks asked “How was the time in Dublin with Alana?” and I would say “great” and then - “there’s no easy way to say this ... my mother died last week ...” and then explain the circumstances.
I feel already that I am being held by this community, with offers of time, support, and even a small memorial service if that’s what I want to do. I will miss not being with my sister and extended family on Wednesday afternoon when they gather, but as it turns out, Alana is nearby doing the GO Project evaluation and may possibly be able to get to my sister’s place.
I will continue to allow myself space to grieve, but also remind myself that I am amongst friends and loved ones, both near and far. And remind myself that in the mystery of the cycle of life, rainbows appear abundantly.