Corner Cry – Memorial Day 2010

It’s hard to put pure emotion into prose.

Capturing the true excitement that burns, the overwhelming need to smile at something, anything, anyone, in words is a challenge. The past week has been incredible. I’ve shared moments with people where in unison we’ve express that “This is one of THOSE moments that can’t get any better.”

I spent an afternoon running through a glacially fed river that only went waist deep in 80 degree weather with friends and a dog, grinning like an 8 year old. I laughed at myself as I stumbled over silt bars, slipped, tripped, and leapt through the refreshing goodness


I followed this with a trip out to a dock to watch the full moon rise over the mountains. The clouds played a lazy game of hide  and seek with the light that rested on the rippling water like a luminescent kayak while I turned up the radio and drank in the enticement of night with a side of Irish rock.Hurricane Rita Haines AK
I took a morning hike out to Seduction Point, and set up a lunch on the hot, black rocks overlooking the water. I watched two pods of porpoises play carelessly. I witnessed a young eagle being chased by a raven, and after about a half hour of soaking up the sun, I was privied to the spectacle of a humpback whale doing what experts call tail slapping, but I choose to believe was a temper tantrum. This big baby was lamenting his girlfriend’s decision to go out to dance instead of staying with him to watch television. He repeatedly lifted his tail out of the water and slammed it down with all the force of a man scorned, sending up what seemed like tidal waves in his wake. The sound thundered like a freight train against the jagged rock and glaciers, echoing like spirits calling to me to stay forever.
I sea kayaked to Battery Point and fell asleep on a beautifully secluded beach while the rest of the town “Beer Fested.” The moment was spectacular. Serene. Sanctified. Satisfying.I’ve met people who make me smile. It’s refreshing to be surrounded by friendly, unassuming folks who share my thoughts Chilkat Guidesabout the general public: Everyone is good. Patience is all it takes to see that, and if you wait enough, inevitably a person will surprise you with their goodness.I am bursting at the seams with what I can only describe as a lightness of being, not unbearable in the least. I finally, truly understand the overwhelming longing to discover a way to bottle it and inject it into the soul of the world. I wish with all my being that everyone could feel as great as I have recently. I wish so hard that it aches.It seems unfair that it isn’t understood as universal. Some truly believe their destiny is to be satisfied, not happy, but complacent. If they could only experience true happiness; liberation from the chains of mediocrity, they’d never return to the lifestyle of the sedentary soul.I shed more than a few tears today. Every Memorial Day I sit down in a corner and cry like a baby until the hurt seeps away in a flood of salt, leaving only grainy streaks of white on my swollen cheeks. I sob until my shoulders have no more energy to rise and fall. I ask myself, the world, anyone who will listen, “Why?”

Today I didn’t get to lose myself completely in my corner cry. Instead, I went on a flight through the mountains, and inWings-Alaska all rights reserved - Hurricane Rita complete awe of the jagged peaks surrounding Haines, I shed a discrete tear. I took a walk through the town and wore sunglasses to hide the evidence. I had a wonderful lunch under a gazebo by the water, and used my napkin to wipe the salt laden drops cascading towards my neck.

I remembered. I cried. I had not the chance to sob, but my heart broke nonetheless.

When I was a young Sergeant, a mother sobbed uncontrollably on my low quarters when I worked the funeral detail for her 19-year-old boy, and it still haunts me. I hear her wails when I least expect it. The sound of pure agony and loss. A parent who has outlasted their child. A realization that nothing will ever be the same. An awareness of the unfairness.

The memorials haunt me. The empathy for the families, who surely don’t celebrate Memorial Day with beer and burgers, but with a longing for the beautiful person who has left behind an empty seat at the picnic table, breaks my heart.

I wish for them to be able to feel my excitement. I want to spread it, pass it around, getting as many people infected with liberation from misery as I possibly can. I want them to be able to smile through the day with positive memories after a good cry, because we all know the cry has to happen in one form or another. Maybe a corner cry, maybe just a tear on a small plane in the mountains of Alaska.

Let it all be flushed out.
Then take the day to celebrate life instead of mourning death. As Gen George S. Patton said so eloquently,
It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

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