Yes…it has come to this. Lyle and I sat around the other night wanting to bring in the spirits. We googled “how to have a séance”. It was a stormy night and the doors and windows were open. We lit candles and invited in the spirits. Mainly Zafer, of course, but we would have been open to any of our loved ones and hell, we’d take strangers too. All of a sudden we heard something that sounded like a beat on a drum. It was an erratic beat. Lyle had put a glass of water on the table as was suggested in our google search. Evidently the spirits will sometimes move water around. Lyle got up to investigate the beating drum sound and it was the gutters dripping on a recycle drum. Oh well. We’ve asked for help from our neighbor Whitney who is way more in touch and open to this. Then we thought we should have an event and and a bigger group and Lyle said he would rig up the water glass with string to move it and freak people out. We were laughing about this and our grief became a tiny bit of joy.
As we move through our grief and work on functioning again to some degree, we are learning. The first thing is that this will take the rest of our lives. The second thing is that we must be gentle with ourselves and explain to others that even if we look good on the outside, our minds are CRAZY AND SCRAMBLED inside and I personally don’t remember things, I can’t comprehend things, my mind is still a blur. Details are incredibly difficult. I can work on higher level concepts, I can have coffees and lunches with people, but putting together the action plans afterwards are just not happening. I get confused very easily and just have to drop a conversation or an email thread. It’s not personal, I just can’t process all of this in my brain and also keep up with schedules and other people’s agendas. I’m thankful to our staff and board who understand to keep reminding me to do things and they have check lists for me to make sure the typical very competent Executive Director can keep it together.
Our family is handling things the same way that they live. Jess is the high powered executive and working on policy layers around the opiate epidemic. Kaitlin is being very profound and spiritual and on the west coast hiking with kids through the Sierra Nevada mountains. Arlo is a camp counselor at his childhood camp in northern Ontario. He has family and friends watching over him which is so comforting. I get reports almost every day on his state of being. My mother is very active in reading and grief counseling and being positive. Lyle is thinking big, very big.
Zafer was a skaterboy and a group in Pittsboro had begun a campaign to start a skate park. The group got a fantastic start and then got busy with their lives. An idea has started for Lyle, myself, Kathie and the group to get back together and this time, there is a new force behind it. Lyle is on fire with ideas of design, art, creating a gathering space and since Lyle was a champion skater in his teens, he has some knowledge about how to do this. Stand by for a very special park in the works that will benefit so many youth and adults.
We hold a summer camp and have had many iterations over the years. I love the idea of camp, designing the programs and the topics, but teaching and being with the kids is not my strong point. This year, being with the kids was medicinal for me. I cried most days with some small trigger. Many of them had “Z” names. They were the cutest, sweetest, smartest, kids. They asked how old my kids were. I had to tell them one had just died from trying heroin. Kevin, my camp partner is a complete stud. A few times we looked at each other and I said this is on the verge of crazy. He had complete command of the kids and no fear. The first day we had only 4 kids bleeding from minor bike accidents, but we felt like that was success. The kids gained confidence, learned a ton about biking and the natural world. Leif and I took them on a “spirit bikeology” adventure. It was complete joy plus a few ticks, lots of red mud and sweat. Alisa taught them about black snakes and purple martins, Jason and Will about farming. Hannah, Jen, Charlotte and friends taught them cooking. One kid who had a hard time paying attention became the best in the kitchen and took ownership of salad dressing and making salad. Another happy boy looked at me and said “this food looks disgusting, but it is DELICIOUS!” That is what summer camp should be in the piedmont of NC.
The support continues to pour out. I met with two beautiful beer brewers. Sean of Full Steam and David of Yesteryears Brewery. I’m a huge lover of their beers, true. These two men met me with tears in their eyes and just wanted to do something to help me and my family. They can’t bring Z back, but they can make a collaborative beer that has peppers and citrus in it and that commemorates Zafer and benefits Abundance. I was so touched and I see how far the ripples have gone and continue to go.
Our dear friends, Bryan and Carolyn lost their 25 year old boy in a similar way 3 years ago. They of everyone know how it feels. They keep tabs on us, send comforting emails and Bryan calls and says “we love you and need you to stick around”. Yes…I get that. I’m going to stick around for as long as possible.
Leif came by and caught me on a bad day. He said “I’m sorry you are having an accelerated awakening”. And he is exactly right…we are slammed up against an awakening. I would vote for a slow build.
Charlie and Kristi are still our team in Colorado dealing with the awful paperwork, sale of a car, dealing with the narcotics agent. The case has become a federal case now, so there evidently are more complications and Mexican cartels involved they tell me.
Alisa walked in the door the other day. She is deep in her grief of just losing her husband to ALS. We buried the two side by side in our home gravesite. “There is a reason for all of this. We are going to build something big here and Chris and Zafer are going to partner with us on it. I know it. They are just on the other side.” Big ideas are brewing about what is going to happen around here and it gives me comfort to think of Chris and Zafer collaborating with us. I don’t know the reason or meaning yet, but something very large is emerging.
People are asking how to help and how to make it better. The only answer I have is to heal yourselves. Join together. Help make this place a better world. Turn all this tragedy into something as good as the awfulness.
Personally, Abundance can use help with upcoming events. Our Pepper Festival is going to be fabulous this year…a fashion show in collaboration with Raleigh Redress and Julie Moore. A kid’s cooking contest (pairing middle and highschoolers with Chefs).
We need volunteers, we need to get the word out to new restaurants and food artisans to bring their wares to Pepper Festival for the biggest festival yet. Zafer was very proud of our work on this festival.
I’m seeking the remedy to grief and so far, it seems to be the basic self care: fitness, sleep, good food, reflection, and a ton of talking and stories with good friends and even strangers. Good books. My sweet friend Gary, prescribed southern fiction. He said STOP reading all those grief books and near death experience books…take a freaking break from being in that hole. I’ve taken him seriously and started on a new pile of books. But I still sneak in the grief literature a little.
Shutting the eyes and the mouth to experience mystery. To connect with my son. I dreamed that Z left me a note that said “I’m leaving” I met with Tracy, a very spiritual friend and also Zafer’s cross country coach. She had incredible insight into Zafer. She said “He was exasperating, coming in late, not following the rules AND he was a top 5 runners and you couldn’t help but love him”. She said he had huge ambition and he wanted everyone to reach their highest potential. He was frustrated and couldn’t do it by being on this earth…he had to go to a higher realm. That was comforting. She said I can access him…just pay attention to those subtle things that happen. I’m working on it. Every day.
Something cosmic is happening even if it hurts like hell. Learning to trust. Learning to trust.