There was a beautiful sunrise this morning. I have not been awake for many sunrises this year, which is a deviation for me. (Continuous sleep eludes me, widowhood can do that.) I had always been a ‘lark’ rather than a ‘night owl’. Rick was the ultimate night owl but @ 5 years ago he took up the hobby of a virtual game akin to ‘capture the flag’ which entailed him striking out into the back country of regional & state parks to virtually claim a waypoint for his team. He developed a heightened appreciation for nature, the creatures, the peace of vistas, daybreak, and sunsets. And most times he went alone as he had a beast of an Ebike for his adventures (and many a madcap consequential tale).
A thought has been turning over in my mind for the past six months. I realize that in what was to be his last 4 years of life he serendipitously had glimpses of early morning gold, from the stillness that is found just before daybreak, the golden magic when the first rays of the sun kiss the trees, the hills, the water, and the morning salutation of all stirring creatures. About the time he began his 59th year the delights to be found in early mornings were revealed to him.
For the first 16 years of our life together I had rather a hard time rousing Rick out of bed before daybreak. But his youthful exuberance for the game, coupled with his playful(?) competitive streak gifted him with his personal discovery. And looking back, I see how these early morning ‘missions’ enriched his life. It checked so many of his ‘Rick Boxes’ for fun, exercise, excitement, adventure, risks (oh boy) and ‘wow moments’. Do I wish I would have said yes, let him spend more money to get me an EBike? Had I known of the cancer that would shortly be invading his body – hell yes!
But now I treasure every memory when Rick would excitedly return (usually anywhere from 20-90 minutes later than promised) and say, “It was beautiful, so still and then ____” (he saw a flock of wild turkeys, small herd of deer, etc.) Or when he would say “I want to get you out to Round Valley, it is beautiful and there is never anyone there! I’ll pick a flat trail in case we have to pull the Ebikes uphill”. (Those suckers weigh about 50 lbs!)
And I remember the times I went with him (hiking), watching him run around setting up his ‘relay stations’ for internet signals while I explored a babbling brook, or focused my camera on sunlight through the trees. During one of our night escapades, we were rewarded with a rarely sighted badger! And the mishaps- Oh, I wish Rick were here so we could reminisce of some of the crazy predicaments he got us in!
I will make it a point to catch more sunrises now because I realize that Rick was given a gift to discover the magic of daybreak as one of his last ‘life lessons’. And just like with sunsets, I always feel we are still watching together. His newly discovered routine brought him peace, added daylight hours to his weekends, helped him to overcome an adulthood of insomnia, and increased his level of appreciation for our ‘big backyard’ of the SF Bay Area; appreciation and gratitude for his life, for our life together.
Merry Christmas Sweetie. You have given me a precious gift for this season. It’s an affirmation of your contentment and peace right up to your diagnosis; that the last 20 years of your time on this earthly plane granted you many, many ‘dreams fulfilled’ and discoveries of ‘gold’. And only you and I can really grasp and fully understand the life lesson wrapped up in that.