I set out for my walk half an hour ago, and relished the clean air which my lungs took in so effortlessly. At the end of the day, it was pleasantly cool yet with a hint of sunlight: the air of early Spring. What a delight, this sensation, this easy act of drawing in breath.
Somehow everything settled down into place. Past, present and future came together. I recalled Andrew and me arriving in the Caldera 19 years ago, full of anticipation; our joy in the surroundings, the lifestyle, the people we met. How well we settled in! How easily and sweetly it all happened. How boundless was our joie de vivre.
It certainly was the right place for us, then and ever after. He'd always been a city boy, but small town life suited him too, as much as it did me, who grew up that way. Being here was never boring for us. How could it be, with such a thriving community of creatives, healers and spiritual folk; and such powerful natural beauty everywhere?
We were more adventurous then than later, particularly him. We used to go all over the place -- up to Nerang to meet with the creator of a new energy clearing product; down to Lismore for a night of theatre, or to the Gold Coast Art Centre or Brisbane's South Bank; to Byron Bay and Mullumbimby to shop, as well as Tweed Heads and Coolangatta. We had two favourite restaurants in Coolangatta, and another favourite in Kingscliff. We attended the Brisbane Writers' Festival and the one at Byron Bay. We belonged to two different library systems at the same time. We saw great musicals and art exhibitions. We swam. We walked in the bush. He climbed Mt Warning.
Somehow, walking this evening and breathing in Spring, things came full circle for me in a strange kind of way. I felt all over again the rightness of our coming here to live. It was as if the air carried it into me, reminding me -- no, taking me back to that beginning and reconnecting me to it. Even though I am now alone, it is still the right place for me to be. And I know we played out our lives together here in a good way, with more delight and excitement than we would have found in Melbourne (though we did all right there too).
So many couples retire to this part of the world and then find themselves isolated and lonely without their familiar surroundings and established support systems. It wasn't like that for us. But of course, those others retire to Surfer's Paradise and the like, not to daggy little old country towns. We came to this small community and found so many new friends that now, 19 years later, I find people I know everywhere I go. I'm always bumping into people to hug!
And I go on in this community as connected to Andrew, in other people's perception as well as my own. When people ask how I am these days, they mean, 'How are you coping since losing him?' They are glad I'm doing OK, and they remember all his good years, and us as a couple. It's nice to know I am not the only carrier of those memories.
I am on my own but not alone.