Monday was Sarah's birthday. I wrote about it on her last birthday here and then, because there was still more to say, here. Sarah has been gone now for over three years.
Last spring, I lived in North Carolina. I woke up that morning knowing it was Sarah's birthday- it was important to me that I remembered not just the day she died, but the better anniversary as well. It was a sunny, beautiful, neon green Southern spring day. My girl friends and I went to Merlefest and watched the Avett Brothers sing Head Full of Doubt. It was about 90 degrees, we burnt through our sundresses and our snowcones melted into electric colored puddles on the grass. It should have been the perfect way to honor and remember Sarah, but I couldn't do it. I couldn't make that connection between she's dead and I need to celebrate being alive. I felt very sad. I felt like there was a horrendous hole inside of me.
Now that I'm back in Seattle, things are different. This is the city where I knew Sarah, where she was born, where she never left. I still see our mutual friends every day. I keep thinking I see her on the street, especially when I'm in Ballard, and I then I have to remind myself that it's not her and it never will be. But it doesn't feel so much like burning anymore. This is the way it is. She died of a terrible disease and the rest of us carry on. And each one of us lives with that much more appreciation for and fascination with being alive. There's something connecting all of us, and it's her.
Sarah's birthday came this year with terrible weather. It was pouring rain in the city. I was standing in the living room at Greg's house, looking out across Lake Washington. He was washing his car in the garage. We had plans to take the dogs to the dog park, but the rain was coming down too hard. It was late in the afternoon and I had nearly resigned myself to a day of
Driving from South Seattle to the foothills, Eastbound on 1-90 towards the looming, snow-spitting Cascade mountain range takes surprisingly little time. At least it does at 2:30 in the afternoon. Before long, the city and suburbs had eased away and the highway was surrounded on each side with darkly forested hills. The curtain of rain gave way to a gray swirls of mist as we cut through downtown North Bend.
Seattle to Rattlesnake Ledge by way of Dairy Freeze:
The mountain was green and wet and lit up with new moss. Greg's two dogs, Dante and Lucia, free from the leash and the car, were the happiest hounds in the world. We didn't see another soul as we switch-backed our way up the trail through the living watercolor. The world inside the forest was gem-colored, dripping, lush- each hue so exquisitely deep you could sink right down into it.
At the top, we were out of breath and above the clouds. It looked as if you would walk right off the planet.
I think Sarah would have really loved the new song The Dog Days are Over. She would love Taco Tuesday and probably have put down 20 tacos long before we invented the 20 Taco Challenge. Remember, this is a girl who shaved her head for a pitcher of free beer. She would have loved that I sent a letter to a stranger at the climbing gym and failed miserably in that pursuit. She would have liked that I gave the shitty boyfriend I had back then the heave-ho. She would like that I'm writing this blog.
******We thought we were running out light on the way back down, but it turned out to be just the trees and their filtering branches. When we burst out of the trail and onto the shores of the lake, we were met with the smooth, pearly light of evening and little patches of blue in the far corners of the sky. Blue sky is worth its weight in gold to a Seattle-dweller after a long winter. I think I've said it before: blue is gold.
In no hurry, we let the wild things play in the water until they'd exhausted themselves.
There was one more stop on the way home. Fireplace, warmth, beers, dinner. Then a quiet drive home in the small, safe orb of the car.
Sarah, I vow to honor you in my life by constantly doing cool shit with people that I love that way I love you.