I am up at a little cabin that sits just two feet from Lake Superior. It is a cold, rainy and windy November day. The huge waves today on the lake come crashing in and hit the cabin windows. Giant waves like these tell me that storms are coming even as my radio just confirmed a winter storm is on the way.
A year ago, I was always rushing to the care center to be with my husband Barry as he laid in bed trying to die. Now I am here up north, a widow who thought she could finally get on with her life. But things are more confusing than ever. Barry’s death has not been as big a relief as I thought it would be. The loneliness just does not go away. As I try to make sense of this journey I have been on with my husband — and now by myself — I have learned a few things and finally accomplished one goal I set for myself at the beginning of summer. More on that later.
This summer I rented that little cabin with no electricity or running water. I always thought that this was the true me, living alone off the grid in the woods. But I learned pretty fast that this is NOT me. I really miss people and electricity. The cabin is dark and chilly even in the middle of July. I discovered it is pretty hard to work at the tiny kitchen table. Without good lighting, it is hard to see what I am drawing. The cabin is also full of stuff. Every surface has something on it:
frames, baskets and knick knacks of all kinds. In my opinion, just a lot of junk. I realized that I am not about possessions. I would rather get out, travel and experience life than surround myself with stuff. It just gets in the way.
Being alone at that cabin did not help me move on nor heal from Barry’s horrible illness. It made me feel worse. It seemed like a good idea last spring when I signed the rental agreement. Maybe I was trying to hide from the loneliness and loss. But it doesn’t work that way. You just have to face it and hope someday you’ll wake up and discover that you are truly happy again. But the summer was wonderful in many other ways. I met some new friends, one of which I will be renting a nice trailer with next summer. The trailer is in the municipal campground in town with a great view of Lake Superior. It has electricity and running water; and, thank God, there
are people around. I can drive a few miles and be in the middle of nowhere to hike and drive a few miles back to get a cup of coffee at the coffee shop that is a short walk from the trailer. I stayed in the trailer this fall for a few days and loved it. I can draw all day at the kitchen table/fold-down bed and see what I am drawing!
In the beginning of summer as I hiked on the wet Superior Hiking Trail, I saw huge moose tracks in the mud. I really wanted to see a moose. As summer went on, I saw a couple of bears, lots of eagles and deer but never a moose. I hiked and hiked but no moose. Then finally in the late afternoon on a autumn day it happened. A friend and I had driven to see Partridge Falls on the Canadian border. The tree colors were brilliant and the falls huge because of the all the rain. Sitting next to the beautiful falls, I felt the most at peace than I had in a long time. As it started to get dark and chilly, we returned to the car and while driving down the dirt road spied the biggest creature I had ever seen — a moose with a huge rack! He looked back at us slightly annoyed. I tried hard not to scream my head off with joy. He slowly trotted down the road and then cut back into the woods. We thought he was gone, but when we turned down another road, there he was again.
Now winter is coming, along with the anniversary of Barry’s death. I may never get over it, but I am confident it will get easier. I won’t live alone in a cabin off the grid ever again; however, I have accepted that loneliness is just part of this experience. It won’t go away, but I can learn to live with it. And you know what? It just makes me happy to know that somewhere out in the forest is another moose and another beautiful waterfall to experience — even if I am alone. That is something to look forward to.