Where the north wind meets the sea There’s a mother full of memory Come, my darling, homeward bound When all is lost, then all is found lyrics All is Found, Frozen II
I lost it last night. I think I’d been teetering on the edge all day, nearly three weeks into Cam’s broken femur, two weeks into all of our lives being uprooted. I felt it yesterday, the need for time alone, a day with nobody home but me, the usual kind of day back when things weren’t topsy turvy, when I could write and putter and drive into Marquette for errand-shopping, then ski to my heart’s content into the early evening while Cam prepared for bike riding or his own after-work projects, and, perhaps, after the ski, a plunge into a Joy Center event that was certain to bolster my creativity and set my spirit soaring.
So last night, at the end of the new kind of day I am living, after a bountiful supper — because we are eating bountiful suppers — as the sun sunk over the neighborhood homes, Cam and I settled into our new evening routine, a few hours of television-watching, either Antique Roadshow or a Netflix murder mystery or maybe, just maybe, a movie that seemed perfect for the night at hand. It happened last night, for me, the perfect movie presenting itself. As I flipped through Movies on Demand, I noticed Jane Austen’s Emma was available, a movie that should have been at the cinemas right this minute, with me sitting center stage watching. I lit up. I felt a treat in the works. And then Cam saw the price and he freaked. Twenty dollars for a movie we are watching on our television in our own living room. He was stormy. He was adamant. It was too much money. Now you have to understand, Cam was probably teetering on the edge all day too, dealing with his own upside down world. And Cam certainly is not the boss of the TV controller or the house or me. We have worked hard over the years to be equal partners in this relationship that constantly is being recreated. But in that moment, I couldn’t take it. I felt like a kid whose last toy had been yanked away. No flowers on my kitchen bay window. No friends to play with in person. No chocolate. Or oranges. No Superior Culture kombucha. No Friday night fish taco dates with my guy. No Cam walking briskly by my side on the bike path or able to do the things he does that make my life easy. No No No. I burst out crying and I couldn’t stop. My inner dam had broken and I couldn’t halt the flood. The weird thing was that I also was witnessing the whole scene, thinking to myself quite objectively that I must need this release, and knowing deep down, things are just as they are meant to be. That’s the thing about this time we’re living through — we can know that there is something big going on, that we, as a global people, are softening, opening our hearts, finding kindness and generosity and connection. We can know that the world is changing and will continue to change for the better. And at the same time, we are allowed to grieve our losses, even if they seem petty in the grand scheme of things.
My four-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter lives from her beautiful heart, doesn’t need a global pandemic to remind her to shine her brilliant light out into this world, to charge ahead unbridled. And on my last visit to Idaho three weeks ago, it was Elsa and Anna and Frozen II that were sparking her passion. Many a day she requested her mother sweep her long blonde wavy hair to the side and twist it in a thick Elsa-like braid. And by the time I was visiting, she had mastered the words to all the songs from both Frozen movies, and I found myself singing the songs along with her. I was struck by the song she belted out most often, the one closest to her heart in the moment, a haunting ballad, All is Found. It is not an easy song to sing, lilting high and changing rhythm then flowing like a river, but she gave it her all while I was visiting, in the early morning and before bed, while walking down the country road by her house, in the car on the way back from a Sunday ski expedition. Her hands on her heart, her arms sometimes wrapping around her four-year-old-body, her passion, deep and soulful, was contagious. Three weeks ago, when the virus was just a slight dot on the map in our country, the last stanza of this song already was feeling profound to me. “When all is lost, then all is found.”
That is what I want to tell you, that most of the time, I am not grieving my losses. I may not have fresh flowers on the kitchen bay window, but I’ve cut lilac twigs from a backyard tree and the green leaves are unfolding in a tall vase in the living room now as I write. Even though there is no dark chocolate in the house, we have homemade blueberry sauce, an awesome accompaniment to any treat. Cam and I both love to cook, love good food, and, in our busy before-self-distancing, before-broken-femur lives, rarely had time on weeknights to create the feasts that have now become a daily ritual. We are texting more often with both families in Idaho, all of us together, and Face-timing with grandkids, and Cam and I are spending precious time just being together. From car, both of us wave more profusely and smile more broadly, to neighbors and strangers as they drive or walk by us. And I treasure the six-feet-apart visits with neighbors and strangers on walks in the fresh air. And I treasure the fresh air. And I treasure that our beloved food co-op is doing everything it can to keep employees and shoppers safe, and food seems to multiply as Cam and I use every bit of everything in our creations. And our neighbors are plastering windows and doors with cheerful hearts to remind each other that we are connected, that we are in this together, even as we self-distance, even as we let go of things in our old lives we held dear. I’m closing my eyes now and envisioning my granddaughter singing with heart and utter sincerity those final words to a song that is a ballad for our time. “When all is lost, then all is found.” And tonight, Cam and I have a Friday date — we’re watching Emma.