The Island in the Sun

After my first outdoor adventure, I stopped by Taylor’s work to see if it were too late for her to take a late lunch. Yep, but we made supper plans. We NEVER do that. We have not been to a “sit down” restaurant, except with meeting up with out of town family, since before Archie went home. He was the one who LOVED eating out, so every time Taylor and I make plans to use one of his birthday restaurant gifts cards we gave him last year…we back out, get sick, or find an excuse why NOT to go. This time I wanted to celebrate. I made it through my first solo adventure!

When I picked her up, however, a bunny trail was there to greet me.

One of Taylor’s bosses came over to my van and was telling me that a customer had come up to her that day. This woman said she had seen her at a viewing in Nappanee and that the viewing was for her husband’s best friend. This lovely lady of Mexican descent was sharing that every time she speaks of Archie, her husband gets very upset and starts to cry so she has learned not to bring up his name.

Wow. Karen is going to see if she can find out the lady’s name. Archie was extremely outgoing and touched a lot of lives. The sad thing to me was the thought of not being able to talk about him. This is where the adventure I had just come from and Archie began a path together. This path takes the form of a story:

What happens if you are living life, going about your everyday business and a whirlwind emerges and scoops you up before you even have time to scream?

In a blink of an eye the wind disappears and you find yourself on an island full of aliens who do not speak English but are dressed exactly like you. You spend the day in a daze trying to figure out where you are and how to get back home. You eventually come across a village of humans. You run to them, excitedly explaining how you got there, but you don’t belong there, and could they PLEASE tell you how to get home?!?!

The people with whom you are speaking eye’s grow soft and their shoulder’s droop, ever so slightly. They explain that once you have been placed on this island you can never again live on the main land. BUT they explain with lighted eyes and voices of hope, you can live a very normal life. You are able to go to the main land as often as you wish. There’s only one catch: You must kayak off of the island, to the mainland and orchestrate the bridge that will be built to your new home. Everyone on the mainland will be so excited to see you again and are waiting to build that bridge and come and join you, but they can’t until YOU let them know where to put it.

This is where it gets tricky. You’ve never kayaked before and there are sudden storms that come up and your kayak may capsize several times on your journey. It will be difficult and by the time you reach the other side your hands will be callused from the blisters that have formed, broken and healed many times. It can also be a lonesome journey and since everyone’s voyage is unique, so no one can tell you exactly what to expect. One thing you do need to know: You will never be the same. This scares you and you have to think about it.

You spend a period of time dwelling/weighing out your on your options. Your family can see you from across the water, they just cannot communicate with you because of where you are. Is that enough? To be seen, but not interact and participate in their lives–fully?

You see others who are on the island who live like that. They LOOK like they’ve been to the main land as their houses are full of mainland “stuff.” Every time they miss their family, they go to an island outlet and get another thing to take into their house to fill/stuff that emptiness. Sometimes they go to the market for food, others go to the clothing, furniture, or odds and ends shop. They look like they, “have it all.”

Still others have married aliens  or immersed themselves in employment on the island. They act like the mainland no longer exists. In so doing they don’t have to think about what they have left behind. They pretend that the ones on the other side of the water aren’t missing them or need them anymore. Maybe they feel like the mainland people are better off without them.

So now it’s up to you. What choice would you make? It would be easier, short term, just to stay where you are. The other journey is long, scary and a lot of hard work. Do you really NEED to go?

Let’s say you decide your family and happiness are worth the sacrifice. How do would you even get started?

Proverbs 11:14 “Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory.”
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According to this verse, you seek out those that have kayaks, have made the trip, their bridges are securely in place, have found joy and can tell/teach you how to do the same.

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No excuses, you determine to take this journey even if the route is rough and painful. People need you. Your family needs you. You recognize that you cannot ignore the mainland or cover the outside of yourself with stuff, expecting it to fill the emptiness inside.

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Next you embrace that there is going to be darkness on this journey, but if you keep the faith, there is light at the other end of this tunnel.

And…that brings us to what that has to do with Archie:

The gentleman that cannot even speak of Archie is on an island of grief. There is only one way to being free of the angst, and that is to face/go through the difficult journey of grief. Archie is not coming back, so that island will never again be rejoined to the mainland, and the impact he had cannot be denied–the water is there–separating the past from the present.

Our guides were from Grief Share. They were living the joy from healing from suffering great loss: spouses, children, parents and friends. Talking about him/reminiscing, even when that means you cry, will turn the tears into laughter thinking of the precious moments spent together, building the bridge, and change the darkness in his eyes to sparkles of joy. That’s the light at the end of the tunnel.

Taylor and I are still in the tunnel, but the light is shinning brighter :). We talk about Arch all the time, so his legacy continues. The memories no longer inhibit our healing, but influence our decisions and plans for the future. We have faith that someday our sun will shine again, not because we have erased Archie from our memory but because we have applied what we have learned from him and the loss of him to our journey of life. Technically, he’s not lost. We know exactly where he is ;).

Someday, we hope to say life on our island in the sun is amazing. The bridge that we build? It’s going to bring our island so close to the mainland it will be mere walking distance.

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Until tomorrow: Blessings!

Author: Tracy Cook

Widowed one week before our 27th wedding anniversary, Heavenly Dad continues to carry me, now blessing me with a second chance for love.

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