Kevin Reidy August 21st, 2010

So, first just a note on my day - my first day back from a momentous/hard/mundane/incredible 10 day silent meditation retreat – a retreat that I started just after leaving Karen on her deathbed – going from carefully watching her breath, to watching my own. I knew I was going to have to face and read the updates on Karen's death and cremation and that I would have to deal with the pressing need to contact and talk with Tom, but I wasn't sure how to approach that and of how to come back to reality. The first few hours (after meditating for an hour to hopefully keep the meditation seed alive and nurtured), I spent catching up on e-mail - it still amazes me that can take 3 hours to do with just 10 days of correspondence - and I'm not really done. So, then I knew it was time to spend the next couple of hours reading and crying - which I did - but I had no idea how deep the sobbing would be - how rapid the continuous intake of respiration would be to breath in and replace all that I and we have lost - to grieve the loss of the, so aptly put, Karen-sized hole that now exists in the world at large and in ours particularly. After I sobbed upon finishing Tom’s updates, I felt moved to go to the attic and go see the view and cry some more. Of course I had to sit and sob a bit on the way up, but when I got to the deck, all I could see popping out at me throughout our yard were the varied and sundry flowering plants - from the nasturiums to the lillies to the flowering arugula that we let go to stock to the beautiful purple - yes PURPLE - flowers of a tree next door. The sobbing continued on and off as I remembered Karen’s enthusiasm for and awe of flowers. I decided the next most appropriate thing was to head off to Tartine, our local amazing bakery, to get some incredible confections of sugar and then head to the top of Dolores Park with it's incredible City views and INDULGE in sugar, as Karen so loved to do, and to take in the beauty of the City she loved so much. Before leaving though, I decided I should just go and sob throughout the house, in every room - I don't know where this thought came from - it just seemed appropriate. It makes me laugh now - to go from the top to the bottom of the house - on the meditation retreat - that's how the hour-long sessions started - "Start at the top of the of the head... and work your way down to the feet" - so I went off sobbingly meditating though our house - and like any good meditation with no expectation of what I'd find. When I got to the office - the first thing I saw was a book on the top of the stack on my desk - Tom’s Evolutionary Activism book. The crying continued as I thought of all the effort and love and care that Karen brought to Tom and Tom’s work - the early meetings in talking about the first book, the board meetings in the 90's, Tom’s "clearness" session... Then I went into our bedroom and the first thing I saw was a book on nutrition and the crying continued as I thought of all of Karen's thoughts/issues/meanderings/enjoyments of food - and of her concern of my own nutrition. And I smiled of course, as I was about to go off and indulge in one of her and my favorite treats - the raw/unadulterated consumption and pure enjoyment of SUGAR. As I passed through the hallway past our 1930's school-room, pull-down world map, I knowingling nodded at the obvious connection we have all shared in wanting to and getting to know the world. Then I went into the guest room- the room that Tom and Karen used when here for her 65th birthday last year. The first thing I see there is the Tutu we bought for her on that birthday (because her birthday is 2/2/44) – which I had recently absconded on my last trip to Eugene. I cried and laughed at the memory of sharing that birthday and of the impish joy and celebration of "silly" that has always been a hallmark of my relationship with Karen. Then I went into Mike's office and saw the image that Bev took of Mike and I so long ago and remembered Karen's skill/desire/energy in bringing people together and her enthusiasm for those whom she held close. I still hold dear the gatherings of Tom and Karen, Mike and I, Ann and Kyle, and Nina and Bev - an intergenerational, multifaceted group of characters lovingly passing the talking stick. I had to stop a few times to catch my breath from crying and headed downstairs figuring there would be no more - but I was wrong. I went into the living room, and there on the mantle are the 2 pictures of Mike and I that Tom found in Karen's apartment back in April - they are from 18 years ago, taken by Bev at Pinnacles. The memory of my introduction to Pinnacles, driving Karen there for one of her solo trips with all of her boxes and food containers that filled my car to the brim, all of our times together there - including on Tom’s 60th Birthday - came running through my mind - and underlying all of that was the joy of nature and the earth that Karen had and shared with us all. I ended up in the dining room, forgetting that there, we have a picture from 1990 - in which Karen is in the center - imagine that - and Tom, Nina, Mike, I, Kyle and Ann surround her. I was touched by her being surrounded by all of us and moved to remember how much love and affection she has been surrounded by in these last several months - a love that she basked in and reflected back so beautifully and playfully. There she was/is - in every room of our house - pulsing through it like the indomitable energy force she was/is?. I have never cried so much in my conscious life - say post-5 years old - very cathartic. I then thought, "Welp, today is the day that Karen really died for me - I will never forget it or her - hmmm, what day is it - 8-9-10 - PERFECT!" Especially given that my meditation spot was number 7! So, 1,2,3, 4, 5, 6, 7......8-9-10 - "Apple Peaches Pumpkin Pie, whoever’s not ready – holler ‘I’”. May Karen's inimical/challenging/joyous/nature-loving/enthusiastic/process-oriented/slow/thoughtful/silly/playful/loving-loving-loving energy be with us always. Kevin