September 10, 2016
I hate having to leave Simon, but today that is what I had to do once again. The last time we said goodbye, we didn’t know when we would see each other again. We had no idea at the time that it would end up being nine long months later. While I have gotten used to not knowing when we will be together again, I will never get used to saying goodbye to him. I truly believe that the hardest good byes make for the best hellos, but that doesn’t make having to say goodbye any easier.
Simon and I always have fantastic days together. We love going hiking, and fishing, and beach combing. As I think back on all the adventures he has taken me on over the last year and a half that I have known him, I can’t even fathom the number of amazing, crazy, and record-breaking adventures that we will go on together over the course of our lives. But, we also know that in between the amazing adventures, there will be plenty of perfectly normal days of going to work, buying groceries, and paying bills. You know- the things adults do. Even when I think of these days, I am filled with excitement because I know that normal, boring, or even bad days will be better when we spend them together. For my last day and a half in Ketchikan, Simon and I had a blast being together even though the things we were doing were pretty average everyday adventures.
I got up Friday morning around 8:30 thinking that I had about two hours before Simon would get home from the station. I planned to finish up the blanket that I had spent the last two days crocheting him, tidy the house a bit, and start making breakfast to surprise him when he got home.
But, it ended up being me who was surprised when I heard my favorite person call “Good morning, Honey!” as he walked through the front door carrying a cup of cocoa for me. It was the perfect surprise to get an extra two hours with Simon when I was trying painfully hard to not realize how few hours we had left together.
Time passes by so fast when we are together. It seemed he had just walked through the door when we realized that it was already nearly noon. We hopped-to and got ready to go have a super late breakfast in town. We had breakfast at one of Simon’s favorite spots in town, each ordering our favorites: French Toast for me, and or him all the meats plus hash browns, toast, and black coffee. It was a drizzly day so far. But we hoped for a break in the clouds later on.
Our next stop was the cardboard box stand that passes as the one and only Verizon store in Ketchikan. We went in for some tec support since Simon’s phone had died at work earlier in the morning. After a not so helpful hour spent there, we left with a number to call for further assistance and an insurance claim they had begun but not completed. We went for a drive passed Ward Lake but the pretty heavy rain kept us both in the truck. We didn’t end up going out and testing Simon’s new gun like we had hopped either. So, off to home we went.
We spent the next quite a while on my cell phone trying to get help for Simon’s phone. First, we tried completing the insurance claim online only to find out that the “total protection plan” Simon has been paying for was still going to charge him $150 to get a replacement phone. So much for total protection!! Next, we called the number we were given at the Verizon store in town. It was the wrong number. We got a national diabetes hotline instead of tec support. Sure, it may be helpful for some, but it wasn’t the kind of help we were in need of at this time. Simon was about ready to chock up the one-fifty for a replacement cell when I said we should at least try calling Verizon’s customer service. It was a desperate shot in the dark, but it did pay off! The very helpful lady said Simon’s phone could indeed get replaced for free! Hallelujah! Why hadn’t we tried calling that number hours ago before even going into town? Perhaps it is because we were really hungry at the time.
Finally ready to relax a bit now that we had a new phone on its way to Simon’s door step in a few days, we plopped onto the couch and Simon grabbed the remote.
“It won’t turn on,” he said hauntingly. “The TV isn’t working.”
“That’s impossible,” I said.
Surely it was against the laws of the universe for both someone’s phone and TV to crash in the same day, wasn’t it? Apparently not. Thus began more testing and tec support phone calls all too similar to the ones from just moments ago. “Press and hold the power button for ten seconds,” the not so pleasant tec lady said. “Is it plugged in?” she dared to ask. Simon stopped this madness soon after it began though. We has said we weren’t gonna go back to Wal-Mart today but, off to Wal-Mart we went.
After I read a few online reviews and we contemplated whether or not he should buy the extended warranty for his new Smart-TV, we were on our way back to his place. I began making halibut for dinner as Simon set up his new TV. We both finished at about the same time. Then, we finally settled in for a dinner and movie once and for all.
We watched the new Jungle Book movie which we highly recommend! After we finished our lemon rosemary halibut, I finished crocheting his camo and red afghan. The next movie we watched is one of my current favorites. It is called the Fundamentals of Caring. It has some strong language, but it is very appropriately used inappropriate language. This one is sure to make you laugh out loud as it breaks stereotypes about disabilities.
While we were watching the second movie, even though we were stuffed from dinner still, our dessert stomachs began to growl. Did you know that the reason that you always have room for dessert is because there is a dessert stomach that is entirely separate from your breakfast-lunch-dinner stomach? Well, now you do! And no, I am not talking about an empty leg.
To satisfy our midnight cravings, Simon and I made chocolate chip cookies. I also wanted to make these so that he would have them to eat after I was gone. We rolled each cookie by hand and spared enough cookie dough to make three whole pans full.
We didn’t want to sleep because sleep makes time pass by without you even being aware. But, eventually we fell victim to counting sheep no matter how hard we tried to stay awake. Morning came all too soon and with it came our final hours together before we were forced to say good bye once again until we don’t know when.
We always seem to be scrambling around the last few hours before we have to say good bye. We made a final trip to Walmart to buy a box to ship my fish home in. I packed while Simon loaded the box with 30 pounds of Alaskan halibut and coho and chinook salmon. We sealed it shut, wrote my name on it, and it was ready to be checked with my luggage on the plane. We double checked the house to see what I was forgetting and we were off to the ferry.
I was frantically writing post cards on the way there. I love sending post cards when on trips and sometimes they can be pretty hard to find since using snail-mail while on vacation isn’t super popular now days. But Ketchikan had several shops with post cards. I bought some the first few days I was here, but of course I didn’t write them until the very last second.
We barely made the ferry. And I mean barely. I think my pitiful-looking crutches and leg brace making its way down the ramp with my luggage in tow is what made them wait an extra minute for us. Or perhaps it was Simon running up behind me with a big box of fish. Actually, it was probably the combination of us both that was quite a sight and worth waiting for.
I hardly looked back at Ketchikan as we rode he ferry across the Tongass Narrows to the airport. The sight I wanted to spend my last Alaska moments admiring was right in front of me. But it was hard to make eye contact without loads of tears flooding my eyes as rain also streaked my cheeks.
I don’t want to say goodbye.
I don’t want your hand to slip out of mine.
I don’t even want to let you out of my sight.
Once we disembarked the ferry, we were in line at the airport to check the fish box, a suit case, and to print my boarding pass. The final moments are like a band aid. One that is super sticky. One that is impossible to rip off fast because you are sure your heart will stop from the pain if you do. But you know that taking your time makes it hurt a lot, too. We said god bye several times and after one last Eskimo kiss, my Alaska adventure was over as I had to turn away and head towards my gate.
Airport security offered me one last gift on my way to the plane- a free full body massage after my leg brace set off the metal detector. While I waited to board, I didn’t meet anyone from Ohio like I did on my way to Alaska. Instead of having butterflies of excitement in my stomach, I had tears in my eyes. As I walked to the end of the boarding line, I heard someone ask, “Are those from Mexico?” in reference to my colorful, beaded earrings. We then struck up a few minutes of conversation about Mexico. It was as if he somehow knew I could use a happy distraction and knew that Mexico would be a perfect topic.
When we began racing down the run way, my vision out my window became completely blurred from both the rain outside and my own tears welling in my eyes. Most of the plane ride back to Seattle I just sat quietly in my seat. There was no Ohio couple sitting next to me sharing photos of their world travels and recommending the best places in Ketchikan. Life already seemed a bit duller. But, as we climbed to cruising altitude we suddenly broke through the cloud layer and the sky was bright blue with a shining sun.
The day I arrived in Ketchikan, the sun was shining. He told me it was one of the best days Ketchikan had seen in a while. But today as I had to leave Ketchikan behind along with the best part of me, rain and tears both streaked my cheeks. However, even above the greyest clouds the sun always shines. And in our hearts, no matter how far apart we are, the love we share brightens every day.
Days void of you mean that you are always on my mind
as my ears long to hear your voice and
my eyes get lost in empty space
filled by the replay of our favorite days.
I thank God every day
that it is only for a temporary length of time.
Because I know that with you is how I want to spend
the rest of my life.