I will be honest and admit that I did not want to go. Last time, in 2013, I felt sorry for myself because I felt inadequate in light of what everyone else accomplished. When John (or it might have been Carole), asked for a head count, my fingers responded. I forgot or chose not to remember that I had resolved "never to go again". In fact, I didn't even hesitate to pay. Then I chose a petsitter because the one I had wanted me to over vaccinate my dog - she developed an auto-immune/ inflammatory condition in her left ear. After finding a petsitter not too far away from me, I forgot about the reunion.
On the day of departure, I dropped off the dog and we headed towrds Corbett. Somewhere around West Linn, a premonition of sadness came over me, and it stuck with me until we arrived. I was in a not so great mood during dinner. I blamed 205, because usually the jams clear up just past Oregon City. On July 23, the traffic jam hung around until we exited off I-84. The doom hung around until Friday afternoon, when I saw Naomi; since I don't hear that well, I did not hear Uncle Carl's announcement, and when I saw Naomi, she was upset about that announcement. At first that little gremlin offered a lot of resistance to paying my last respects. My inner self won over my inner critic and I walked up to Carl, identified myself and told him that I loved him. Then I gave him a hug and walked back to the tree where I was joined by Mike Bowen.
Shortly after walking back, Michael offered me his hand and said something like "Great to see you again" and walked away. That is when it dawned on me what Carl said: he knew he was going and wanted to say goodbye to everyone. Meeting death is scary, even if it is not yours. Although I survived the passing of my father, this death affected me a lot more. That evening, I started reading his book, "Sleeping on Potatoes"; there I really was introduced to poverty, discrimination and bad economic conditions. It struck me that the most poverty-stricken people are often the most generous. I read a lot of biographies and autobiographies, since I am such a history nut. No book had more of an impact on me than this one.
The next morning, I had a conversation with my dog. She said she missed me, something she never said before. After we got back from Eric's excursion, I noticed how different I felt. Much of the bitterness was gone. I felt like socializing again after spending hours the night before with that coloring book, creating colorful flowers, autumn leaves and radiant flying insects. On Monday morning, I kicked myself in the butt to get out of bed. This time, though, I felt different. Coming to terms with death and dying is sometimes the best way to jumpstart one's life again.