An Unfortunate Goodbye

Saturday, 15 November 2014

I think I’ve always had this sort of semi-acceptance of death. I don’t tend to be the crier in the room, as long as I can see each situation as a passing after a well lived life. Mind you, I’ve only ever been to three funerals/wakes in my life that I can remember.

The first was when a childhood friend’s father passed away when I was maybe seven years old. I vaguely recollect walking in to the room and seeing the casket, but I don’t believe I knew or fully comprehended death at that time. Now growing up I had many pets which equates to many pet funerals – those I remember, so I must have had at least a basic understanding.

My grandfather passed away when I was nine, but he lived in NY and I was in Florida. This death I understood and was surely impactful, yet still I believe I rode the fine line of not fully understanding/not fully knowing to what extent sadness should exist or longer.

Then my grandmother passed away when I was twenty-two years old. Between those years, I only experienced animal passings. This loss was greater to me because I saw and experienced and felt the process of death. As I sat by my grandmothers bedside with my dad and many aunts and uncles, I accepted that it was her time to move on. I saw in that very room the beauty she had created and the blessings she was leaving behind. It was time for her to join Rafa because like he said, “finally, it is a matter of love.” I loved my grandmother and wouldn’t have wished for an end, yet I found my acceptance in knowing that her life was incredibly well lived.

One month later, my great grandmother (on the other side of the family) passed away. Vovo was something else, at 102 years old she would have me bring my laptop over to show her photos of what I’ve been up to. She knew more about what was going on with everyone than anyone else in the family – and I say this with emphasis on the everyone because she created an empire. I cherish the fond memories I have in Vovo’s apartment growing up with all my many aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins and all those other distant lineage paths that I can’t quite definite yet I know I’m related to. Though I unfortunately was unable to attend this funeral, this loss too was something I felt more able to accept because I knew her life was incredible; I knew she lived.

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The third funeral/wake I attended was for the friend of my high school best friend’s mother. I went to support those I cared deeply for, and I watched people around me with tear filled eyes.

It’s a funny emotion that most experience after a loss – that empty sadness that really does not ultimately do anything physically to make a situation better. Tears offer comfort but they cannot change the outcome. I don’t know how or why I developed a slightly detached perspective on death… Maybe it is because I have experienced so few in my life, and because those few were substantially lived lives. Who knows.

One thing I do know is that never in my life have I felt so devastated as to the loss I experienced today. Today one of my best friends passed away. She was a friend, a sister, a mentor, a source of encouragement, a role model, an absolutely all around amazing person both inside and out. Heidi left a mark on me, among many others, that will remain forever. Twenty nine years old with dreams and ambitions and dedication and heart and passion and drive. She was incredible.

I remember the first time I met Heidi. I was new to rock climbing and had seen her the few times I’d gone. She was hard to miss as her passion for everything was so blatant and her grace on the walls was something to admire. I’m not sure if she offered pointers as she saw me struggle on a climb, or if we simply exchanged hellos as we climbed near one another but it was her genuine personality that I instantly clung to and we became friends instantly. Heidi was a phenomenal climber and had been for years and years beginning in her hometown of Patagonia. Despite my new basic level abilities, she would always offer to climb together – granted she would do tough routes I still am unable to complete, she never made me feel insecure she would just give me tips or cheer me on.

Looking back on these past few short years of knowing Heidi, I will forever cherish our memories because each moment spent with her was valuable, productive, and truly unforgettable. I could go on and on with my stories and memories, and for that I am grateful. I am so grateful to have had her in my life and so lucky to have been a part of hers.

To leave this world at such a young age and with such incredible potential for a long, successful life is an honest tragedy. In my few experiences, I can’t say that I’ve ever been as emotional over death as I am in this moment. But Heidi lived. She loved travel and education and family and friends and laughing and helping people and exploring and daring. She accomplished great things and strived to do so much more.

Tears to me seem silly sometimes. I am only seldom a crier, yet for Heidi I can’t seem to stop. I know I share this emotion with an amazing amount of people because I know she touched a lot of lives beyond my own. Today was a breathtakingly beautiful late fall day and Heidi went climbing like she does nearly every single weekend, but today Heidi didn’t come home. She left us all doing what she loved most.

Heidi, a part of me is gone with you. I will forever cherish the bond we shared, the stories we told, the unproductive climb time gabbing we did, the photos we exchanged, and the friendship and sisterhood you gave to me with that big smile on your face. I love you and miss you tons already, but I know you’ll always be smiling down. RIP Heidi <3

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The Game of Life

3 October 2014

Have you ever experienced that feeling that the way things play out in life, though far from what you had planned, are in fact the way they were meant to be all along? I feel that way recently.

I had plans. Well, I had a plan. A plan to move, to set out on a new adventure in a new town with new people and new experiences. It is amazing how quickly things can turn around and stray so far from the set path. The change I experienced was for the better though, it was a final hour quick decision to make but I believe it’s really been for the best. I canceled my plans to move and accepted a full time position in a field of my interest.

My life has taken a quick 360, as my good friend pointed out to me the other night over dinner. As have many others. It’s a 360 that I know will be for the best in my future, and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity I was handed.

Frank Turner – a British singer – has a song called Photosynthesis. It begins like this:

Well I guess I should confess that I am starting to get old
All the latest music fads all passed me by and left me cold
All the kids are talking slang I won’t pretend to understand
All my friends are getting married, mortgages and pension plans
And it’s obvious my angry adolescent days are done
And I’m happy and I’m settled in the person I’ve become
But that doesn’t mean I’m settled up and sitting out the game
Time may change a lot but some things may stay the same

I feel he just puts it in to perspective so perfectly. Photosynthesis is undeniable with time, yet despite the changes one can always retain their original self. I’ve made fast new changes recently in my life but my photosynthesis is forever ongoing and I treasure that trait within myself.

Funny what life does to a person. It will always offer the good as long as one is willing to embrace the change that it may cause. I have pure gratitude for the people in my life, the experiences I’ve had, and the bumps in the road along the beginning of a much longer ride.

Take a chance. Embrace change. Appreciate the good in your life. & Love. Sweet dreams, world!

SCUBA Honduras, Day Six

30 June 2014

Today was fantastic. It was my first day of fun dives and I got to do it with my favorite guys, Andrew, Kevin, Pascal, Tyler, Magellan, Ed, and a few other great people. I’m officially SCUBA Open Water certified! Woohoo… Now I can cruise above and below the surface of our beautiful seas. Stoked. We saw a Moray Eel today too, which was incredible. And when we got back to UDC there was a baby octopus that was living on a small rock on the confined water tarp that I snorkeled around it with Chad.

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We all relaxed in the afternoon and readied ourselves for a long (and my last) night. There was a booze cruise around the bay from one of the other dive centers. I went with guys and two other girls from UDC, Brooke and Bea. It was packed! One of my favorite photos from the trip was taken on that little boat ride but isn’t funny how the world works… It accidentally got deleted off my camera later that night. It’s better to have the memory then the proof I guess, huh?

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After the booze cruise, the group of us went for Mexican for dinner and Larson, one of the boat captains joined us. He is such a lively person; such great company. There was a huge beach party tonight so we stopped at UDC for a drink with Mary, one of the instructors (who couldn’t be sweeter). The guys didn’t join at UDC – my main guys, Andrew, Kevin, and Pascal – they wanted a little nap before the beach party. On my walk back to the apartment from the dive shop, I made new friends. Now, to give you a bit of perspective, when walking to our little apartment hut you pass a few other homes, essentially walking up and down their driveways and “yards” to weave to ours. Our neighbors toward the front of that walk happened to be outside on my way back. So, naturally while the guys napped, I hung out with those friendly neighbors/locals. They introduced themselves: Mayo, Mason, and the ass hole. Their choice of name, not my dub! And there were a few other nice men there.

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Look at these beautiful faces of the guys I live with:

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The beach party was such a good time. I introduced myself to a wonderful Canadian that I’d seen the whole week beginning at the Houston airport, but never spoken to. The night never ended – I didn’t go to sleep, rather went directly to the early ferry (with a quick stop to grab my bags from the apartment and to say goodbye to the guys) and had the most delightful company and conversation with Magellan the whole way. We parted ways and I made my way to the second ferry and eventually to the aero puerto.

I made so many amazing friends and have more memories than I could imagine from such a short stay on this eclectic paradise island.

Off to Mississippi to spend a week and a half with my dear friend, Stephanie!

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Get out there, world!

SCUBA Honduras, Day Five

27 June 2014

What a day. Last night was a long night. Lots of wonderful new friends on this island & lots of memories constantly being made! Another bar challenge took place last night; another four shots but no running around like a chicken with its head cut off. The night came to an end with an Irish man singing Gaelic folk songs. Typical.

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This morning – though exhausted – was great! I went out with my fellow open water course buddies and we did our dives 3 & 4 on the North side of the island, which has tons of beautiful scuba spots! {side note: our neighbor DJ just started blasting Backstreet Boys as I lay in bed typing this. Excellent. Almost as excellent as Spice Girls in karaoke last night! Ha.} Anywho, so we saw some neat little fish today including a massive tarpon! We thought it might be a shark when we first saw it from a distance. It wasn’t :( but still so cool!

The rest of the afternoon was pretty mellow. Has a cerveza and homemade donut (in competition for our MINOWS secret pizza donut cafe homemade donuts) on the top dock. Perfection!

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Andrew and I had dinner at what is apparently the best restaurant on the island – a Chinese/Thai style food. It was worth the 45+ minute wait (not for a table, for the actual food after ordering).

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Just kidding. We got more than white rice. It was sooo good (I say that as a relative term)!

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So wiped & diving early tomorrow for my two fun dives! Can’t wait. Hoping to see a whale shark. Or at least a sea turtle. Well, long day tomorrow too being that it’s my last day! Sad to go but I know tomorrow will be great. Good night!

SCUBA Honduras, Day Four

26 June 2014

It’s amazing. You set an alarm for 6 am and you wake up at 5 am because of the sunshine and music. Our power went out last night (happens a lot) so we woke up to no power or water or anything. Thank goodness for our breeze!

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Kevin and I walked over to UDC around 6:45 to get ready to go for our dive. He led a bit of our open water group. Diving in the OW was sooo much more exciting! I didn’t bring my camera out for the first dive but we saw a spotted eagle ray, a lobster, a trumpet fish, an octopus, Sargent Majors, and so many more fun things! We came back to the boat to switch tanks etc and then went out for a second dive, during which we practiced a lot more drills. We saw a squid on the second drive! Amongst other neat little sea creatures. Just, awesome.

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I took a little siesta in the afternoon and the guys were just hanging while Andrew was diving… When all of a sudden I awoke to the word fresh cookies! The little shop at the end of our side “rode” to our house had fresh out of the oven dulce de leche cookies with a heavenly filling. Mom – we must imitate this recipe! Yum.

(PHOTO – quote & sign)

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The Mango Inn has a sweet little restaurant owned by a man named Brad. He’s from Minneapolis and bought the Mango in March, fixed it up a bunch, and created a wonderful spot with good food, good music, and great people! I highly recommend if you come to Utila.

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That’s Brad. And this is a disco cat wanderer.

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Time for karaoke at UDC. And another T-Shirt challenge. And an incredible night with tons of new friends.

Good night!

Good night, friends!

SCUBA Honduras, Day Three

25 June 2014

Two things I already know I won’t miss. One: the 6:45 am club music; two: the ants in the bed (yes, ants and lots of them).

I finished my theory work! Christina is an awesome instructor. She’s hilarious. She obviously equalizes (diver joke…because I’m so experienced now). And after lunch I got to get in the water!!

Marc (another instructor) taught me two lessons in one and then took me in the water with Andrew since I was solo in my course. Learned everything and practiced a bit. I had to do a ~400 meter swim test followed by a 10 minute float test… It was a tough challenge but I survived ;) Kidding. I hope you know that was a joke. SO nice getting a little (literally) swim swim in. Marc pointed out a few barracuda and a scorpion fish which were so neat.

No new photos today but lots of relaxed fun. I find it harder to blog lots of details etc. when staying in the same place rather than bouncing around. It’s all good though :)

Out to dinner with the guys now and as Kevin says, an early night (which means extremely late and not fully coherent, when coming from him). Diving from the boat tomorrow! Can’t wait.

Sleep swimmingly, world :)

SCUBA Honduras, Day Two

24 June 2014

Six am wake up to a sun as bright as mid day, and to the sound of… I’m not really sure what classification of music it would be actually… but our own personal DJ in one of the shacks across Garbage Lake (I just named it that). Here is our humble abode, home to Andrew, Kevin, Pascal, and myself. It’s nice. I stayed here last night with them & will again tonight but may go to the hostel some nights to meet people. We’ll see. Here is the apartment and our incredible view (even better on the other side where there is half a boat and a collapsed “house”):

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Andrew and Kevin (from NJ) went on the morning dive so I took a walk to the end of the main road on the island, or at least in this area. There is one main road that goes through the island. I came to the little beach and turned after I took it in for a few minutes. Along the walk I found a wall that said “gaviota,” which some of you know to be my favorite Spanish word. It means seagull though, so I’m not sure why there is a marlin mosaic picture near the word.

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When I got back, Pascal and I went for breakfast. We made friends with a cat and enjoyed delicious fresh fruit smoothies.

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I hung on the end of the dock at UDC to wait for the group to get back.

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There’s a great little coffee shop next to UDC where we relaxed in for a bit. I jumped off the dock, Andrew studied, and a guy named JD from Fla played some guitar. The proceeds of the shop go to promoting education along the rio coco river. Pretty neat.

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I read that Utila has an iguana rescue/research center so myself, Andrew, and Pascal went on a little hike to check that out. Andrew and I both got in one of the cages to feed him hibiscus.

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(A photo of a photo.)

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We also went just a bit further and found one of the highest points on the island with an incredible view.

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I finally got started on my dive theory course – watching a movie, reviewing the manual, and answering questions. Andrew, Kevin, Pascal, and I then grabbed a crepe on our way to a bar called Skid Row. Skid Row offers a challenge for a free t-shirt. The challenge consists of four shots of guifity (a traditional homemade rum brew made of twigs and foliage. Each guifity has a different taste based on the area you have it because not all land tastes the same. Anywho, you take three shots consecutively, then spin around in circles ten times, then take a fourth shot, then run around the pool table ten times. So worth the t-shirt! ;)

We got home and had a little grilled queso blanco (YUM) and fresh piña. Then the power went out for like twenty minutes – thank goodness for phones and our headlamps. And so it goes…. Bed time!

Another wonderful day. Goodnight!