Long time no see

Hello Planet FMO. I have been in another world. Walking about a hundred miles over the 12 days, thinking, talking, enjoying silence, enjoying cities, LOVING the woods and the fields of Scotland. In a nutshell, we flew to Glasgow, met my sister and BIL, walked from Fort William to Inverness, toured around there, went by train to Edinburgh, toured there, train to Glasgow, more walking and sightseeing, and flew home via Dublin yesterday. Whew! 
I took my heart with me, needless to say. I took Andy. I took my loving thoughts of you and all my family and friends. The first book I read on the way was called "Making Toast" by Roger Rosenblatt, (http://www.amazon.com/Making-Toast-Family-Roger-Rosenblatt/dp/0061825956/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1309394535&sr=1-1) about his daughter Amy who died suddenly from a heart anomaly. (Hugs to everyone who knows about those.) She was a doctor, mother of three, devoted wife, fun generous creative person... suddenly gone. Roger and his wife moved in with the son-in-law and kids to help out. The book is the story of that first year. Just the daily thing... survival.
At the end of the first year, he says he has spent so much time thinking about death and getting nowhere with it. That is how I have felt. It IS the Great Mystery. I can understand that we all die, even that kids die before their parents sometimes, when things don't go right. Disease, accidents, war, etc. We are after all just animals, and we know we won't be alive forever... and there's no way to know exactly when or how you or I will go. So I understand (but I do not approve, as Edna St. Vincent Millay said!) that we all go. What I can't 'get' is what 'gone' means. I have given it so much energy and I'm still at square one, like Rosenblatt. 
Being away, and reading that book as I travelled towards Scotland, gave me a really lovely break from my weary spirit's struggle. As we left the States behind, I left the questions behind. I know they would have caught up with me sooner or later but what I took with me was love, not sorrow. I took a dozen or so of the origami paper cranes, and nine tiny paper packets each holding a pinch of Andy's ashes.
Each morning, as we set out on our way, I found the most beautiful place I could -- a tree, a waterfall, a patch of moss or clover, a hillside with tiny ferns -- I set down a crane, I opened the packet, I sprinkled the ashes, and I said, "You are here, Andy." I did cry a little with each one. But almost every time, there was some lovely and comforting little sight or event shortly thereafter that helped me. For example, there was a scruffy young man passionately complaining about the litter on the trail RIGHT after the first ashes... swearing a blue streak and saying why can't people take better care of the beautiful earth. Drew and I smiled in recognition. Another time we were walking past a large area of scattered white stones and we realized that people had arranged them in words and symbols ... Lizzie found the word A N D Y. 
I also took the little woolly owl that my friend Moira gave me on Valentine's Day, and took him everywhere. He was a sweet little buddy in a special zipper pouch of my backpack. I am so grateful and blessed that Drew really understood that the owl was MUCH more than a toy. It was about Andy, about love, about connections, about bringing your heart with you into each day. I took MANY photos of the little guy. I am planning to make a little book with all the little woolly owl photos and the poem "i carry your heart" by e.e.cummings with one of the shutterfly or picasa type products, and give them to some special friends: Moira, Heidi, my sister, my mother, etc. 
Along the way I met some special people too, and gave them the 'extra' paper cranes. The first gift crane was to a wonderful earth-mama who was the proprietor of a tea garden -- with a silver candelabra and tea pot -- in the middle of a swamp! She had chickens running around, and made me a cup of hot Ovaltine, which Andy used to love. I mean, how wild and special. When we said good-bye, I gave her the crane and said it was from my family to hers, and that I wished her all peace and happiness. We hugged. I felt her spirit present, the way Andy's would be. He would have just adored a tea garden in the swamp with Ovaltine. : ) 
The night we walked into Inverness, at the end of the Great Glen Way, we were SOOO worn out. We went to a gorgeous B&B that was like an art gallery. The owners Lorraine and Kosha had clearly loved creating this exquisite space and experience for their guests. But I saw in the guest services folder that he, her beloved, had died on May 21, 2012 from cancer. A year and two days after Andy. I felt that I really needed to find a good time to connect with Lorraine, to let her know that I knew how terrible a time she had been through. The first night and of course the next morning when she was producing a gorgeous breakfast for everyone: not the right time. Finally I was standing outside the front door admiring her garden, and she stepped out... I said, "Lorraine I am so sorry about your beloved Kosha. You have been through too much and now he's gone... I know how much it hurts." She said that he had gotten pancreatic cancer and died just five weeks ago. I told her about Andy dying of brain cancer. We both cried and hugged. Just then a bird flew into the window and broke its neck. Why was that? It seemed to be about beautiful things that just end, and how we have to keep going. When I left I gave her a paper crane, and said that I wished her peace. She put in on the table in front of the framed photograph of her and Kosha on their wedding day.
A few days later, Drew and I went to West Glasgow to find Andy and Byron's distant cousin Catharine... one of the kids they knew in their childhood from summertime on a lake in New Hampshire. Catharine's mother was Andy's father's third cousin or something like that. She had moved to Scotland and had two daughters: Catharine and Larissa. Andy stayed with them in the winter of 2005 when he and Iva were at school in Findhorn... he had to leave because their relationship ended and he was distraught. His cousins Catharine and Larissa took him in and consoled him until I could get him a ticket home. They loved him. I wanted to see both of them on this trip but Larissa was off at Glastonbury, a huge rock concert weekend. Anyway, Drew and I went to Catharine's flat, met her partner Stuart and her two year old Lauchlan, and took her out to dinner. I gave her a paper crane because she would have loved to have been at the memorial service with all the other cousins... everyone got one.
It was a good feeling to connect with each of these people and offer them something of spiritual significance. There were countless times that we said, "Andy would like that." or just mentioned something that reminded us of him. I have told Drew that I don't want to be the only person who mentions Andy... and he's getting it. Of course my sister and BIL understand, having lost a daughter to SIDS. Also my parents... having lost Mary... my aunt Penny and uncle Bill who lost Edward in a bus accident... sadly it's just NORMAL for us to lose children, but luckily we HAVE each other to love and to remember those who have passed over. As Roger Rosenblatt said, it's both the best thing and the worst thing about a close family. You love each other means you're going to miss each other. But we do HAVE each other, forever.
So, I have more memories, more ways to honor and love Andy, more ways to feel his spirit... the pathway reveals itself to me. I still do not approve or accept, but I know, I understand. And I will look for every possible moment and chance to say, "Andy is here." 
Thank you so much for caring about my heart on this journey. I carried yours, too.
xoxoxoxo Sarah



knowing and understanding......will now always accompany you farther down the path.....what a beautiful experience this voyage was, more steps on the journey of a thousand steps...and may love and Andy always be with you bringing warmth and deepening your living....love to you Sarah....xo

Soothing description of a peaceful and fulfilling journey. I read \"Making Toast\" awhile ago and appreciated the author\'s determination to \"keep on keeping on\", as we all must.

Welcome home!

Sending love and thoughts of peace to you and Andy ~ Debbie

Thank you for sharing your adventure with us. I felt as if I were there, right by your side, watching it all unfold. I too love the way you shared Andy, through the cranes, with so many. Yes, a spiritual expression of love and ANDY! Lot\'s of love and tight hugs to you sweet Sarah!

That was great to read Sarah, Thank you so much for writing such a lovely journal about some of the special meaningful times you had on your journey.
I completely identify with soo much of what you write & I am so glad you did that walk with Andy along with you everywhere. I understood about the little bird. It would have felt like such a symbolic moment. And so many other things you saw after each ashes..
Thank you for sharing it all & having the patience to type it all out for us. I love your journals Sarah. Lots of LOve to you & Andy xxxx I am glad you & Drew had your lovely walk together... with Andy- everybit xxxx