A small victory comes from completing the North Island. Craig and I were happy to do it as a bit of a run. 12k from our hostel to the southern shore in the early morning. Fitting for the two of us and a beautiful thing to do in the salted morning-sea air. You get that feeling that everything is so vivid, you almost feel like you’re not really perceiving it. As though you are watching a film of yourself. You’re lighter and your senses are heightened.
It was a beautiful run. Up and over some of Wellington’s great city parks, with tall pine trees and sea views in all directions. Then the end of the track comes down to a rocky shore, jagged and ominous. Like a different sea than we’ve seen here so far. It felt mystic and so alive.
Which was fitting, as it came with a phone call that changed my heart quite a lot. Just a few steps in that morning came the news I’d been anticipating. The truth I was trying to get used to this whole hike. Lu, my beloved aunt, had passed.
As I was running this last bit of trail, I didn’t know how to feel. It wasn’t shocking. It wasn’t hurtful either. At least, not at the time. I just tried to run with it. To think little and breathe deeply and to feel what’s around me. In hopes that it was a way to dedicate my senses among the living to the dead. Particularly the newly dead. All I knew to do, was to be.
When we got to the southern shore. We sat and celebrated our journey, or at least I acknowledged it, and sat for a moment at the marker. I jumped into the sea. I thought about how much Lu always commented on my strange love for cold water. Then, more than ever, I wanted to feel the sensations of being alive. I hoped I could share it with her.
For the rest of the day, that was the most I could do. I wanted to really taste for her. To really breathe in the ocean air and feel the breeze on my skin. We took the ferry over to the south island. It was our day to crossover, in a much smaller way than hers. Still, I found it symbolic. In a way, if felt like I left her on the north island. That this was the first part of my journey going on without her, but in a much bigger way, it felt like I took her with me.
In this gorgeous place, I felt comforted. There’s sadness, but it’s nestled in such beauty, I find myself taking it all in. Everything is part of it.
I felt grief when the sun set that night. For the day to be ending that had started with her in this world. Yet I felt grateful and deep and touched. I had a cup of coffee, which is strange for me at night, but I had to feel it’s warmth in my hand, and it’s steam on my face, and to see it sitting on the table next to a hand of cards that Craig and I were playing in her honor.
It’s going to happen in pieces. A matter of learning what’s gone the next time I go to reach for it. On a shallow note, I look at the surface of the sea and I wonder what I’m supposed to be feeling. On a deeper note, I know my heart understands things that my brain can’t.
And so, I walk.