We had a little one room cabin in the National Forest in northern Arizona, the place that we spent a few short holidays with Luke just months before he died and where we all took long walks together in the Autumn absorbing the beauty of the changing leaves. We had picnics and naps on the pine straw under the trees. We still took those walks after Luke died, but without him with us we felt lost and alone.
It was close to a year after Luke died that my husband Robin (Luke's dad) and I traveled to our log cabin in the woods. We named our little cabin LUCAS LODGE because Luke loved it there so much and he thought it looked like the lodges we all used to go to at the National Parks on family vacations.
It was a long drive and we talked about Luke the entire trip and how much we missed him. Oh how lonely we were for our boy, and we both cried and shared memories and asked questions that had no answers. We discussed how much our lives had changed and how lost we felt in the world. The grief that we both carried was so dark, and lonely, and scary. Laughter that used to be such a big part of our family was lost somewhere in the midst of our grief.
We arrived at the little cabin in the woods at about 9 pm. We were so tired, but still had to unload everything out of the car. As we were unloading, I left the cabin front door open to make it easier to carry things inside. We finally got everything unloaded and into the cabin.
The grieving, and the tears, and the drive, and the talks, and the night were exhausting and we were very ready for bed. We lit a candle for Luke so that it could burn through the night as a flickering honor to our son. Then, we both went straight to bed. There was not a separate bedroom because the cabin was all one room (except for the bathroom).
Robin fell asleep right away and I felt myself beginning to dose off. As I was in that twilight sort of sleep I heard a fluttering near my night stand. I thought that maybe I was just dreaming, but then I heard the fluttering again and 'something' flew above the bed to the other side of the cabin. I thought to myself..... "I think that might be a bat." Then it flew back to our side of the cabin and just from the swoosh, swoosh of the wings, I KNEW it was a bat.
Through all of this Robin was lying next to me.... snoring away. I woke him up and said...."Robin, there's a bat in the cabin!" Robin said..."Oh, go to sleep, there is NOT a bat in here." Well, just about that time, the bat swooped down just above our heads. Robin said..."Oh wow (he really didn't say wow) it is a bat!" I said... "I told you!"
So Robin jumped out of bed, grabbed the broom, grabbed a kitchen chair, put it by the front door, opened the front door, sat in the chair holding a broom in the air with nothing on except his underwear. The scene looked like something out of a comedy movie. I was still in the bed, holding on to the sheets, ready to cover my head. I screamed from the bed..... "What in the heck (I didn't really say heck) are you doing?" Robin said...."When I open the front door the bat will fly towards the door and when it does, I will whack it with the broom." I thought to myself..."Whatever?" Then he opened the door.
I just sat there in the bed taking in the whole scene and situation. There was my sad, sleepy, exhausted husband sitting at the open door of the cabin wearing nothing but his briefs, holding a broom in the air, hoping to whack a bat!!! I knew for sure that we had finally reached our limit of sanity. All of a sudden he yells...."Ahhhhhh, Oh shucks (he really didn't say shucks)!" I said..."What's wrong?" He said as he was swinging the broom through the air... "I think another darn (he really didn't say darn) bat just flew in through the door!" While he was swinging away one of the bats flew back out the door, Robin jumped up (in his briefs) with the broom in his hand, and was still swinging it through the air as he slammed the front door. I said... "What the heck (I really didn't say heck) are we going to do now!" Robin said... "Well, we sure can't leave the door open because more bats will come in!" So he sat down in the chair again, in his briefs, with the broom in one hand waiting to swing, hoping for the bat to fly near the door, so he could either open the door or whack the bat.
He sat there for about 15 minutes while I waited in the bed with the covers in my hands. Then, I said... "Just forget it, I'm going to sleep, I'm too tired to deal with this." Robin said..."Yep, I'm too darn (he really didn't say darn) tired to chase this stupid (he really didn't say stupid) bat all night!" So we both lay down, so exhausted from the drive, and the grieving, and the tears, and the night, and NOW..... from the bat. But every time we would dose off that lost bat would fly right over our heads, so close that we could feel the air move. By this time we were just too tired to care or to do anything else about the situation, so believe it or not we just dosed off to sleep with that bat flying back and forth across the cabin all night long. Occasionally we would wake up to the sound of the swoosh, swoosh and the feel of the air on our faces.
FINALLY morning came and there was no bat in sight. We got up, kissed Luke's urn, and made some coffee. I said... "Well, you know that darn (I really didn't say darn) thing is hanging upside down somewhere in this cabin." So we searched and searched, but we could not find that lost bat anywhere. So I said... "To heck (I really didn't say heck) with it, I'm going to open the curtains, let the sunshine in, and forget about that bat." As I opened the curtains by the dining table I heard a flutter. I looked behind the curtain and THERE IT WAS hanging upside down from the back of the curtain. I yelled..."ROBIN... I found it!" But by the time Robin got to the window the bat had scooted between the logs and the window casing and was in the curve between two of the logs. I said... "What the heck (I really didn't say heck) are we going to do now?"
Between the two of us we came up with this the GREAT IDEA... at least we THOUGHT it was a great idea....... Robin went outside and got the fish net, and I got a straw from the kitchen drawer. Robin held the net over the curve of the logs and I poked at the bat with a straw to make him scoot out. It worked like a charm....... except NOW the bat was in the net against the log wall. Robin said..."What the heck (he really didn't say heck) am I going to do with him now?"
Well, I got closer to take a good look at this annoying lost creature through the net. He was brown and hairy! He looked like a mouse with big hairy wings! I said... "UUUUHHHHHGGGGG... Look at him!" Then I said... "I know what you can do.... just slide the little hairy creature down the wall while it is in the net until you get it to the floor and then you can slide him on the floor out the front door." Robin just looked at me with this questionable look.
Because he didn't have a better idea Robin slid the bat down the wall to the floor while we were both screaming. I was screaming in a high SCREEEEECH, and Robin was screaming in a low AHHHHHHHH. I said... "Oh my God... don't let him out in the cabin." Robin was squatted down, walking weird, walking backwards, dragging the bat in the net to the front door across the floor...... but at least this time he was fully dressed. It worked GREAT, although it doesn't sound great. Well, we finally got that lost bat out onto the front porch. Robin raised the net as we both stood there in relief and watched that lost bat fly towards the mountains. We assumed it was flying like a bat out of (you know what) to get away from the two crazy grieving parents who had given him the night of his life. We both just looked at each other and started laughing. And then we gasped. We couldn't believe that we were actually laughing. Our son had died, how could we be laughing? But we were laughing. How did it happen that we were actually both really laughing and laughing hard?
That little lost bat found his way back out into the world after a long and lonely and scary night. That bat was somewhere that he really didn't want to be, but there was nothing that he could do about it until the morning came and showed him the way home. Robin and I were also lost in our grief and it was long and lonely and scary. But that night with a visit from an unsuspecting brown hairy winged angel, we made our first step towards finding our way back home.... out of the darkness, into the light. For the first time since Luke died we were lost in laughter and we could feel Luke laughing through us. We now knew that we could take those long walks in the woods no longer lost and alone because Luke would always be walking with us.
© 2011 Christine Ross
~ in memory of Lucas Christopher Ross 1979 - 2001
LOST IN THE WILDERNESS
I was lost out in the wilderness
Searching for a pathway back,
Back to the life I had before
When everything was still intact.
Twigs cracked loud beneath my feet
As I walked along the trail.
I felt him walking with me
And knew his presence would prevail.
I looked up to the mountains
Then I felt a cool Fall breeze
So I let myself imagine
It was a time before he ceased.
We both stretched out beneath the trees
On a blanket of pine straw
As we gazed up through the needles
At the sunshine that we saw.
We talked there in the Autumn's warmth
And we laughed at stories told
Of life, and time, and happiness
We shared so very long ago.
We reminisced more yesterdays
As the sun began to fade.
Dusk had reached the wilderness
And I didn't want to leave.
But time was waiting for me
To regain my sanity,
So I started walking on the path
That led to reality.
In the distance up ahead I saw
The light of present time.
And back behind the pathway shone
The light of days gone by.
'Should I walk into the light
Of the present? ...or the past?'
One held grief and sorrow,
One held what didn't last.
I kept walking, still unsure
Until the path circled around
And met the lights of 'then' and 'now'
Making a glow upon the ground.
The halo of the gathered light
Revealed a path I hadn't seen
Leading to a 'new' reality
Not imagined in my dreams.
The two lights came together
One of present and of past.
And there upon the forest trail
A new light had been cast.
I walked within the new light
Of a past that's never gone,
Down a new path made of memories
So I'll never be alone.
I still go to the wilderness
To the blanket of pine straw,
And we still talk of days gone by
But I'm no longer lost.
© 2011 - Christine Ross
In memory of Lucas Christopher Ross 1979 - 2001