Friday, September 19, 2008

The Last Journey

BAY MINETTE, Ala. --- Just when we were settling into a visit with Heather's brother Jeff and family, including the new addition of Caleb, we got the call from home that my grandmother had slipped into a coma. Just a few hours later as we strolled down High Street in Pottstown, Pa., we got the news she had finally slipped away.

As we traveled the hours between there and here, I contemplated the journey Grandma had traveled on, and wondered how it is different from the one Kaitrina made just a few weeks ago. As I blasted Kila and listened to the beautiful lyrics about the mundane acts of life, and the wonder therein, I contemplated how I was going to explain this process to Liam. People make it simple by talking about Heaven, but that is a bit counter to my beliefs on death and the immediate afterlife. We've chosen not to discuss Kaitrina's absence, but as I'm preparing to go to the funeral home, I have to wonder how I can introduce a 3 year old to the idea of Sheol and death as the destination of this little journey of life.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

On to PA ... via the 14th Century and B'more

POTTSTOWN, Pa. --- From our base camp in Woodville, Va., we spent Friday catching up with Heather's parents, Saturday and Sunday at the Maryland Renaissance Festival catching up with everyone else, Sunday night and Monday with our friends at the Maryland Kenesiology School in Baltimore's Orthodox Jewish Community and last night in Pennsylvania with Jeff, Ashley, Carter and the new addition of Caleb.

Saturday was our 6th Anniversary so I bought Heather's selection of dresses from Wolfstone Kilt Company (gorgeous!) and she is having a pair of Medieval Moccasin boots tailor-made for me. Besides getting to catch up with people we have not seen in a month of Sundays, there is the exciting news that our brewmaster friends Andrew and Maria have brewed a beautiful Oatmeal Imperial Stout for Deakstock, which they will be auctioning off for the benefit. They have requested permission to use some of my photos of Deak for the label, so the facets of my art career are expanding. Unfortunately, the pint they left with me to take to Deak exploded in our car leaving it smelling a bit ... different. Speaking of smells, we also got an invite to stay with friends in Harford County who have horses! Speaking of horses, I ran into a group of my old compadres from PGSO out supporting a fellow deputy competing in the MDRF Highland Games. It was great catching up with them and I hope to see a few more when I visit the department in a few weeks.

It was greatly refreshing to spend a night with Karen, Danielle and family in Baltimore and we are looking forward to spending the week of Sukkot with them. More details on that later.

For now we are in PA and enjoying the new family addition, and Liam is definitely happy to have Carter for a few days.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


SPERYVILLE, Va. --- Finally, after more than 24 hours on the last leg of our journey, we have arrived at home with Meaghan and Eddie.

Since leaving Yosemite, we made a mad dash across the midwest to Bloomington, Minn., to visit with our former pastor Tim and his family Cyd, Peter and Leif. It was great having an evening to be back together and share in the events of our lives since departing 3 years ago.

We pulled out early on Tuesday morning and arrived in the Shenandoah mountains a little after noon, and are looking forward to some quiet time of reflection and friendship before going on to Heather's family on Friday, and the Ren Faire this weekend. From there, its to our friend Karen's for a night, to Jeff and Ashley's for a week to see our new nephew Caleb, then back home to Meaghan and Eddie's until sometime in mid-November when we go nomadic again.

As a side note, Liam is making some mad progress with his new grasp, and our new focus, on Gaelige, so from all of us, "Tog e Go bog e!"

Sunday, September 07, 2008

One very long day

LAUREL, Mont. --- The Brendan's Isle voyage has made a landing somewhere on I-90 for the rest of the morning.

We left Cousin Sheree's Friday afternoon, picked up the car in the nick of time, dropped off the rental just before they closed and caught Cousin Joey right before they left for the evening, so we were able to pack everything and hit the road. And hit the road we did.

We drove through the night and on to Butte, Mont., where we spent a luxurious amount of time at Cavenaugh's Celtic Shop, where we learned Butte boasts more Celts per capita than any place outside of Ireland. 

Needless to say, we found a score of things we needed, including Liam's new Irish fire engine and my Gaelic/ English dictionary with a pronunciation guide and a new bed spread. We even picked up a few gifts to share in our grand adventure. We also looked at a few mansions - given the extremely low cost of living - so if we suddenly disappear, you might want to check out west.

From there we stormed through Yellowstone National Park where we took some closeups of elk and Buffalo and some absolutely amazing geological events, which we will share in the near future. After heading out of the park and toward our next landing, we drove over an 11,000 foot mountain and got caught in a blizzard, but unfortunately, we only had rain by the time we reached the valley, but onward we went to the next town, which had no rooms in the inn, so here we are 2 1/2 hours after leaving Yellowstone, finally putting our heads down for the night.

Tomorrow, Liam and I are going to hit the pool before packing back into the car and heading toward Minnesota. We're hoping to be seeing the lakes by midnight or so tomorrow, then dinner with the Johnsons, and finally onward home.

We'll see how it goes.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Getting ready for the Cross-country Dash

RIDGEFIELD, Wash. --- Today we are sadly leaving my Cousin Sheree and Jimmy's home for the first leg of our return to the east coast.

Our plan for now is to stop at Mount St Helens on the way back to Olympia, Wash., pick up the newly repaired VUE, visit shortly with Heather's cousin Joey and Sarah while we gather the rest of our belongings, then head in an easterly direction for a few days.

While the visit with Sheree and Jimmy and their kids has been uplifting and engaging, it has also been rout with sadness as we've lost the baby.

We understand there is purpose in all pain, and God would not have allowed this if there wasn't a greater reason than our loss, yet, we feel the loss of this child and what she would have become.

We are thankful in the loss that God allowed us time to spend with her and to bring her home to rest in our mountains.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Pure Hope

On Sept. 2, our child was born, too soon to live in this world, but forever alive in our hearts. This is what I didn't get to say to her.

You were born on the second of September and I can't even remember how we were going to spell your name.

Was it Katreena or Katrina? or had we decided on Caitrina? I only remember it meant pure, and was a companion to Hope.

You came on the day we drove along the Columbia River to see the waterfalls. Your mother had been spotting and I could only pat her hand and say it would be okay, and quietly all day we prayed that it would be. We hiked to a place where the water rained down from the cliffs above, drenching everything in wonder. It was a place so wonderful you could feel Heaven coming near. I went back to get your brother, to carry him on my back to where he could feel the mist billowing from the cascade, and I dreamed of bringing you back there.

You came shortly after dinner, and we were thankful to be able to hold you, suspended in your little amniotic sphere. You lay sleeping in our hands, curled inside your little orb ... floating in our dreams for you ... and I imagined you swimming. 

We gazed into your world as if we were looking into a crystal ball that could tell us what to do with those dreams and our anguish. We found no answer as your little world clouded over, but you were already etched into our hearts.

We suspended you in tears and carried you in an ordinary little bowl. We traveled for 10 days between your birth and your laying to rest. We traveled through grief.  We traveled across a continent, with your mother desperately knitting for you, and I folded paper into an oragami box and painted it with knotwork and flowers.

We found humor in your travels - of your great journey in the week after your birth, of riding in the car unbuckled, of giving you a proper Irish wake. And every night we poured more tears into your bowl, and your mother knitted and I folded paper into a proper oragami box with thistles and shamrocks.  

We carried you to Riversong. We carried you in your bowl wrapped in knitted knotwork. We carried you down to a tree by the river and built you a stone house while Liam gathered wildflowers with Meaghan. Our friends played drums for you and we danced with you while Liam took pictures. We burned incense and candles and placed your little clouded sphere into an oragami box decorated with knotwork and flowers.

We closed your riverside home with a flat stone door, but we opened windows in our hearts to Sheol. We were able to leave because we know Heaven comes near in this place, and when we think of you beside the river, we will come swimming in your dreams.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Creel's providing a bed to their wayward traveling family

RIDGEFIELD, Wash. --- We've come in for another landing at the home of my cousin's house in southern Washington state, just north of Portland, Ore.

We've had an amazingly blessed time here and are looking forward to the days ahead before our car is finally in working order and we head off blazing saddles toward that eastern shore some 40 driving hours away.