Language has created the word "loneliness" to express the pain of being alone.
And it has created the word "solitude" to express the glory of being alone.
This past Friday would have been our 44th wedding anniversary. I spent this one alone ... again ... as I have since Vern died. I miss him. I'm lonely for him and the life we shared.
But this anniversary was different. Because instead of staying secluded in the house in my jammies I decided to drive up to Mt. Charleston. It has been years since I was there. So long, in fact, that I missed the Kyle Canyon turn and didn't realize it until I passed the Paiute reservation. The city's growth has had an impact in that area.
As I traveled up the mountain, I saw the devastation left by the recent fire and also the glory of nature among the pines. New growth was peeking out already in the midst of the burned area. Bright green sprouts emerging from the high desert soil. And I felt a kindred spirit with the land.
I am also awakening from the devastation. Oh, many thought I was already there. You see, I'm a pretty darn good actress it seems. Few have ever recognized how deeply I keep my sorrow hidden. Some may ask ... I respond that I'm ok and have learned that if I immediately ask how they are the focus shifts and never returns. And that's ok. That's who I am, who I've always been. Except with Vern.
I absorbed all of the natural beauty of this area, pulling off now and then to take a photo or just reflect. It was healing. I arrived at the Lodge and decided to stop to get some lunch. I was seated in the outside patio area where I could enjoy the view - and the many hummingbirds feeding along the roofline. They were entertaining and reminded me of how much Vern loved watching them out our back window from his hospital bed. Tables full of couples and groups surrounded me. Life goes on. We shared pleasantries. I splurged on a dessert and when it arrived the others exclaimed (it was a huge brownie sundae). My response? "It's my 44th wedding anniversary and I felt like treating myself since my husband couldn't be here with me." No one 'got it' ... or at least they didn't appear to understand that the reason he couldn't be there with me was because he had died. As one group left, they said 'congratulations' and the waiter later asked what I was celebrating. I hesitated. I stumbled over the words. Should I share or just let it be? I shared. He was uncomfortable. He didn't charge me for my coffee.
As I headed back down the mountain I stopped again at the burned area, just taking it all in. And then a hummingbird flew up to my front windshield. I was delighted. Why was it here? In this place of blackened and burned vegetation. And then it flew to my open passenger window. It hovered there, looking right at me. I exclaimed. Out loud. It took my breath away. I thought it might actually fly inside the car, but it remained there and then flew off. My God wink. My Vern sending me a message. What a perfect, perfect anniversary gift.