we went out to a beautiful restaurant called the Lake Lanier Tea House. the building is a huge log cabin and when we first walked in, i thought, "he would love this place." the food was fabulous. i loved that we sat at a round table. like Camelot, no one was at the "head." no one's face was obscured from another's. we were all equal. we were all seen. we were sisters in the round.
the photos started, of course. flashes. giggles. ordering. talking and talking....
we were loud. i was for a while as well. i know. i was surprised as well. but it felt safe to let a little of myself come out. let me explain that.
i felt safe saying a lot to my tribe. there are things i will never speak of to anyone but Dragon. he knew it all. it takes time to build trust. my Dragon loves me. he loves me and he was fierce. he needed to know these things if our relationship was going to grow as we evolved within our lives. these women i experienced this weekend with are genuine human beings. they are in deep pain and struggling to make sense of it, and why this happened to them in exactly this way and what they are to do from now on. live, of course, but that is a 50 cent word thrown on the table when someone does not know what to say.
i trusted this tribe with several things about myself, but to completely open up and be myself was frightening. i did not want to be too much myself and risk losing them, seeing even one of them turn away. i wish i had the fearlessness to tell you who i really am, who my Dragon saw, but in these last 21 months i have had too many other widows turn on me and turn away from me. i will be myself slowly. until then, i will stay quieter. i want to be part of the tribe for as long as i have breath.
at the Tea House there was a woman who sang. Daryle Ryce. her voice was achingly whiskey and blues and jazz. she held her guitar delicately but firmly; a precious and dear friend who will not forsake you but cannot follow you on their own. they must be carried. she played and sang from having been there. soulful. joyful. mischievous. mournful.
we closed the restaurant down and i walked over to buy one of her CD's. i saw her guitar. it is old. not a few years old but it is maybe the first guitar she ever owned. the case is battered and frayed. i believe her guitar is for her like his dog is to Siddhartha. when Daryle passes away, she will take her guitar. if the guitar is not allowed into Heaven, then she will smile sadly, but a smile all the same, rueful, and thank St. Peter at the Gate. she will walk away carrying her guitar to find another place to play. it will be Heaven's loss.
Daryle herself has the face of an angel. one of St. Michael's legion. she has seen things no woman should ever have had to see. just my impression from looking into her eyes. she played a song for me. i told her i was widowed, that the tribe at the table were all widows. i thanked her for playing "Fly Me To The Moon" even though she was unaware of the significance to me. her husky voice said this: "Sister, I want to play a song for you if you'll let me. Now, honey, It's a sad one but I think you can handle it. We're together on that road and a song is all I can give you."
she played a song of loneliness and misery. she sang it to the air. she sang it to the lake outside the windows. and she sang it to me. i watched her hands grace the strings of her guitar with a loving and familiar touch. they knew the way to the music of heartbreak. i watched her eyes. she was smiling at me as she sang and her eyes got misty. this song was not only for me. it was for herself and she was sharing it. if i never meet her again, i feel that Daryle is a sister in sorrow. i told her i loved her. she told me she loved me. it was expressed as only kindred spirits can when they know their meeting is brief and the only one they may have.
when i am here and i feel the panic rise up inside me; when i feel the familiar pressure on my chest and the crushing weight of my life on my lungs and my shoulders, i will put on a Daryle Ryce CD and listen to her sing to me. somewhere out there, someone else understands.
we went back to the inn and put on pajamas. we congregated in the room of the Goddess Diana to watch a movie about two 9/11 widows who are working to help the widows in Afghanistan. it was moving. it was difficult to watch. two of us had to leave and not finish watching. i was one.
there was one moment in the film when one of the Afghanistan widows said, "we were destined to be widows." all the widows were standing in line waiting their turn for handouts. it hit far too close to home for me. the pressure in my chest was building. my shoulders ached. i am no where close to the hopeless situation that they are in but the begging, it got to me and i did not want to start sobbing, to close my Saturday in such a deluge of tears when it had been filled with art and laughter and good food and music.
the miraculous to me though by Saturday night it should not have been, the tribe understood. my sisters knew that the Storyteller and i were affected and needed to leave the film unfinished. and that was okay. we were not abandoning them. we were only retreating from something that was a little more than we could stand at that moment.
sisters understand. they are intuitive. each of us matter to the other.