On the one week anniversary of Hannah’s passing, I woke up really sad. Every morning, I’ve been feeling Hannah’s presence, then realizing that she isn’t with us. On this morning, the absence was profound.
My sister Angela and her 3-year-old daughter Katie were staying with us from California, but I couldn’t shake the tears. Anna our nanny helped Wesley get to school, and I encouraged Angela to take Katie to the zoo. When the house was quiet, I had a nice, long cry. I felt so sorry – for myself, for Wes, for Greg, for Hannah. I felt angry for the first time since Hannah’s death – so mad at the situation.
I decided the best thing to do was to go for a walk at the beach. I decided to go to Discovery Park, the same place I went for Hannah’s first birthday. It took me about 30 minutes to drive to the park, and I cried the whole way. It was pouring and windy, and I thought that I’d likely get soaked, but decided to continue to the park.
When I arrived at the parking lot, I was the only car there. Usually the park is filled with people, but the rain and cold scared them off. I checked email on my iphone, and plugged in my headset to listen to music. I had planned to listen to Adele the whole time – good cry music for sure. When I went to change the playlist, I couldn’t adjust it. The music was on the Black Eyed Peas, one of Wes’ favorites for his impromptu dance parties. I tried over and over, and couldn’t change the artist. So, I decided that I was meant to listen to this silly music.
I laughed from the minute the first song started. I don’t think you can cry and listen to will i am. I have never actually listened to the lyrics before, but I am so glad that I did. Hilarious (and raunchy!). I walked with a big smile on my face. Not what I was expecting, but such a fun, fast-paced soundtrack to my walk.
Once I started walking, the rain stopped, and the sun started peaking through the clouds. Everywhere I looked, the sky was dark grey. But on this walk on the far west shores of Seattle, the rain slowed and sun tried to come out. Amazing Hannah!
Discovery Park is an old military base turned nature preserve. I walked past the old chapel and beautiful officers homes to the rolling fields that meet the bluff above the beach. As I walked, I found beautiful vistas with benches looking toward Bainbridge Island. I took a lot of photos – perhaps one of these could be the bench for Hannah’s Memorial?
The bluff transitions into a trail that winds its way to the beach. As I smiled and listened to some pretty amazing songs (I think “Latin Girls” had the best groove and the worst lyrics), I thought about all of the things I used to do and stopped doing over the past few years – most of all, hiking. I remember bringing our dog Maggie to Discovery Park as I trained for my trek in Nepal. She and I went almost every weekend, and often took this same trail down to the beach and back up. I made a vow to myself to begin hiking again, and to bring Wes to this trail.
When I got down close to the beach, I could see it was a fantastic low tide. The sun was still peaking through the clouds, and I could look across the sound and see the area where our house is on Bainbridge Island. Our house is easy to spot from across the water by the marker of the homes below it on Broomgerrie. There is one house in particular that is a large, white lighthouse – it is easy to see with the naked eye. I liked knowing that I couldn’t get any closer to the island than this point.
As the trail ends, you walk along the road to the entrance to the beach. I realized as I got there that there are no benches on this part of the park. Aha! THIS is where Hannah’s memorial bench should go. Perfect. I can imagine a mother or grandmother resting on the bench as the kids play on the beach. It couldn’t be better.
I went out onto the beach and found a big stick. On the sand, I wrote HANNAH with a big heart around it. I stayed on the beach awhile, taking pictures and thinking of our family. It felt so right to be down there, sending my love up to our little one.
I followed the trail back up through the woods, appreciating the hike and realizing that I’m really out of shape! I was so glad that I wasn’t listening to Adele – I needed the fast paced music to keep me going. “My Hump” fit the bill perfectly.
When I got back to my car, it was pouring again. Tons of rain, and huge gusts of wind.
I am so glad that I listened to myself, sought refuge at the beach and once again had to let go of my expectations (sorry, Adele!). Ah, Hannah. Continuing to teach me these great life lessons. Thank you.
Later in the evening, Wes had T-Ball practice. I joined grandpa (aka Coach), and had a fun time with all of the kids. At one point, it started hailing. Hard. The kids ran for the big tree at the side of the field. Wes said, “I think this is Hannah playing a trick on us!” The hail stopped, then started again. We all laughed and once again went under the tree.
At 7:02, grandpa, Wes and I were driving home from practice. We were wet, and hungry, and we all looked up at the sky, remembering the beautiful sunset from last week.
Oh, we miss Hannah, but are so grateful to find her in nature – everywhere we look.