||February 10, 2000
This morning I woke with a flutter of anticipation, feeling happier, lighter. Maybe it was the talking to Churpa gave me yesterday. "You have the rest of your life," she said, "to love Steve and grieve him and miss him. You don't have to do it all now. This is not something you have to 'get through', as if you're wading through a sticky green swamp."
"And, " she said, "now you are liberated from living in the shadow of Steve's charisma. Now, when my friends come and hang out in your palapa, like Brian and Ches and Matt did yesterday, you know it's because they want to be with you, a 56 year old woman. Before, you would have wondered if they were just there to be with Daddy. I know you would have, because you're like me."
I don't feel like I invite sorrow. When the tears come, I cry them.
Nonetheless, this morning I had this light shivery "frisson" feeling, and Josh crossed my mind, one of the Georgia boys who had taken off a week ago to Valle del Bravo for a Mexican adventure. When Churpa and Becky showed up for morning coffee, I told them I thought something neat was going to happen today, maybe someone would show up, Eileen and Irv and Peggy and Joan. And Churpa said, "And do you think Josh is coming?" And I felt a moment and answered,
"Yes, maybe Josh."
"The Oracle has spoken," Churpa joked.
And it was Josh I felt. He was hitch-hiking in from the highway as we spoke and showed up an hour later.
He brings us all little gifts. Mine is three metal butterflies, coated with something soft and almost furry in colors of rose, forest green and black, with small white dots. I am pleased. There have been an abundance of butterflies passing through my palapa this year, singly, but quite often. Once when I was having a thought about or from Steve (I sometimes have such "Steve-ish" thoughts that they seem to come from over my shoulder somewhere), a beautiful large white moth passed through, pausing briefly in mid-air right before me.
"People keep giving me butterflies," I comment.
Last year Kamari and Churpa, independently, both gave me black butterfly hair clips here at the beach for my birthday, reminding me of a book I read once about transformation. Those butterflies were like early messengers, precursors, of my "widow's weeds."
These butterflies Josh has given me are larger, bolder, and beautifully colored, the black merely high-lighting the strong, rich colors. I put them on the upright post of Steve's altar, where they cling at intervals between Steve's ashes and the coffee grinder at the base to Steve's picture snuggled in a hollow at eye's height.
Late afternoon I'm still feeling happy and high when Heather from the neighboring palapa comes and tells me there's a turtle down the beach. I tie Xuxa up and run down toward the girls' pirate camp, gesturing wildly to Churpa and Becky to follow. me Then I turn and start running along the water's edge toward Los Colorados. Down in front of Bill and Lois's I see a crowd of people clustered on the beach. Some are at the water's edge; most are brandishing cameras. I squint as I approach but can't see the mother turtle anywhere, nor the distinctive tracks, flippers cutting a swath that somewhat resembles a tractor's passage. Has she already swum out to sea? "Where?" I ask.
Gail points--, "There's one! And there!"
I peer in the direction of her finger and see at the water's edge a pair of minuscule gray baby turtles, no bigger that tiny chunks of driftwood, dragging themselves seaward with their leathery little flippers. The last of a wave hisses in, engulfs them and draws them out to the bay.
Clambering up the beach, I see movement here and there and spot a half dozen more staggering along leaving their spidery little tracks behind them on their passage to the sea. I join the people at the top of the trail, kneeling at the rim of a shallow circular crater in the sand. Popping out of the hollow are three little heads, their flailing submerged bodies digging themselves to the surface of the nest. They emerge, pointed in various directions, and almost at once begin their migration to the sea, just minutes out of the egg.
I wonder how they know which way to go. Is it the sound of the waves? Smell of the ocean? Vibration of the thumping sea carrying through the sand? It's obviously encoded information, for even those who start off at an angle eventually correct direction toward the water. Probably now a dozen of these midget critters are en route between nest and ocean, and more heads protrude from the sand.
"They're in luck," says Bob. "If the jack corvalli were in the bay, or the pelicans, they wouldn't have a chance." These tiny beings are at the mercy of numerous predators. Two percent of a hatch makes it, I'm told.
Just then Becky hands me a notebook.
"I made this for you. It has your list in it."
She has put a drawing on the cover of some rocks and a stream, and the booklet is titled " Tina's Favorite Memories." Yesterday I had interrupted the girls in a game at their camp. They had listed their ten worst memories, then went on to list their ten best, which quickly grew to twenty, then thirty and upward. They encouraged me to join them by listing my own best. I was tentative at first, but soon more happy memories flooded in. The booklet Becky has given me has 18 listed in Becky's clear distinctive hand.
The title flap reads, "This book is thanks for all you have done for me and all you have shared in your writing. Please add to this as you remember more things. It helps to give perspective at times when you wonder why you're here. Each moment is a lifetime of reasons. Much love, Becky Fay."
I hug Becky, deeply moved.
By now I'm high as a kite, full as a river, deep as the sea. Life flows before me in the form of little gray turtles, determined, instinctively forging their way forward into the ocean, into their life. As the sun sets and shadows lengthen, the last of the hatch are well on their way.
That night, in my camper, I write in my new notebook: "#19. Becky giving me this book at the Turtle Hatch!"
"To go on a pilgrimage, I discovered, you do not need to know what you are looking for, only that you are looking for something, and need urgently to find it. It is the urgency that does the work, a readiness to receive that finds the answers."
Janine Pommy Vega
....continued with And, yes Howard, we did eat Steve