Where Have I Been?

I haven’t written for a while. How do you put into simple words that your father drove himself to the job he hated, parked in the parking lot in his 2010 spotless vehicle, and shot himself in the head instead of facing another day in the system? How do you explain that the person you’ve known the most closely and longest in your life…the man that saved, raised, protected, loved, and taught you how to be a woman…your hero…was in so much pain that he could only hurt himself to be released?

When I found out, it was as if somebody had taken my entrails and tossed them into the tide, to be chewed on slowly by bears and eagles like a spawned out coho.  The emptiness was tangible. Yet, life was still beautiful.

I sobbed, I fell, I stood back up, I fell again.

I walked into parked cars.

I drove (somehow) to the cabin and meditated in the sun.

I sobbed and fell again.

I’ve done this a lot.

John has caught me-.

My initial and remaining reaction is simply…I want to wrap the entire world, every suffering father, brother, uncle, sister, mother, son…every person who is doubting their self worth, every child feeling lonely…in a warm, safe bubble of light. I want to point out their beauties…their successes…the absolute treasure life is.  I just want to hold and protect every person so nobody ever has to feel the pain my sweet father felt August 29th, 2012.

I don’t want to issue a harsh word to a single soul.

Only love.


And Light.

I haven’t had the courage to sit down and finish an entire blog since it happened, but today I decided to ignore the 3 drafts I have started and from which I’ve walked away, crying.

Words will be written, and shall not be edited.

Here I am. 20 minutes left on the library computer, and a story to tell.

It has been over a month since my father made the decision to remove himself from the system.

A bold statement to the institution at which he worked: How bold? 

On the month anniversary of his death I celebrated life with a 20 mile run along the ever gorgeous Lutak Inlet. My lover and soulmate biked behind me offering encouragement the entire way. We saw so much in that time: A rainbow, sun, steady rain, whipping wind, biting cold, many eagles, and unparalleled beauty.

Two days ago John encouraged me to take a break from packing up the cabin. I did.

I pushed the kayak into the ocean at high tide and made a break for the waterfall across the way. I paddled vigorously, never pausing to rest. I had a vial of my father’s ashes in my pocket, as well as a little vile of tequila. I paddled to the base of the cascading water, hiked into the trees, found a beautiful spot from which I could see the cabin, yet still feel the spray of water, and meditated.

I talked with him. I cried, I laughed. I rolled my eyes at his dramatics.

I took pictures like spent hours doing side by side in Dominican Republic.  I poured him some tequila and drank down mine.  I reminded him of our first time going out to get drunk together, when I returned from Afghanistan, and our first time smoking herb together when we first returned from Alaska this past fall.  I talked about how he beat me around the trailer park by cheating on that infamous race that hot summer day when I was still all knees, ankles, and tendons.  I laughed at how I took him snorkelling for the first time, and he needed floaties.  I remembered how he taught me to swim, walked with me hand in hand on the beach, and came to every Zumba, Masala Bhangra, and salsa class he could.

I even admitted how I secretly enjoyed his infatuation with that damn saddle and cowboy hat when we’d have my birthday dinners at Texas Roadhouse.

Lastly, I talked about how that waterfall had healed my heart, my soul, and my mind after I returned from Afghanistan. I talked about the countless hours I’d spent on my porch, pondering the hatred of war, staring at the water ripping down the side of the mountain.

The waterfall, constant but never the same. The water that rushes from skyward, always bringing with it promise of change. It is never the same waterfall…never the same drops of water…It is constant motion, always fresh, always beautiful.

Yet so powerful.

You never step in the same water twice.

I left him there, at the base of the waterfall. His ashes shimmered in the golden afternoon light as they arced from the vial into the soft swirls of the crystalline spring.  I couldn’t help but smile.

I left him in the most healing place I could imagine; the place where I’ve spent 3 years channeling my healing energy.

When I paddled back across the inlet, the sun was bold in my path. I stopped just short of the cabin and said thank you to the man of small stature with the big open heart who is responsible for who I am today.

To my Stormwatchers, thank you for your patience with my silence.

To my father, I love you, David Manuel Maldonado. It is a love that transcends time and space, distance and dimensions.  I know you know that. I know you feel that. I feel your energy, healed and healthy, around me constantly.

I will leave you with these words in loving memory of my father, the bravest man I know:

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26 Responses to Where Have I Been?

  1. Sharon Henry October 3, 2012 at 8:28 PM #

    As I sit here crying, all I can say right now is, “I love you and wish you peace.”

    • Hurricane Rita May 29, 2013 at 8:05 AM #

      Thank you. I miss him terribly

  2. Paula Lowrie October 3, 2012 at 8:46 PM #

    Oh, Rita, I am so, so sorry; my tears are streaming down my face as I hurt for you. I know this was hard to share…..peace and love be with you.

    • Hurricane Rita June 10, 2013 at 11:08 AM #

      It has taken me until June to respond to comments left in October. It has hurt. I miss him.

  3. Sue Arnold October 3, 2012 at 10:42 PM #

    This moved me in many ways. His legacy lies on I his beautiful children. Best wishes on your continued journey through life. Thanks for sharing!

    • Sue Arnold October 3, 2012 at 10:43 PM #

      Sorry for the typos…I hate auto fill…his legacy LIVES on through his beautiful children!

      • Hurricane Rita June 10, 2013 at 11:08 AM #

        I always enjoy crossing paths with you and Deb, so let’s well wish in the same location again soon!

  4. diane persons October 3, 2012 at 11:49 PM #

    Oh Rita,I only know you from a short bus ride to go rafting,but you are one of the must fun loving,interesting people my sister and me had ever met. I am so sorry.I wish you only the best.Your papa is now at PEACE. If you ever get a chance please listen to the song “Angels” by Heart.It was written by Ann Wilson for Shawn Lennon after his father John Lennon was killed. It will help with healing the soul. May you have PEACE,Diane Persons

    • Lisa October 4, 2012 at 2:31 AM #

      Oh my gosh, my breath was taken away and tears filled my eyes as I sat and started to read your latest blog entry. I am deeply sorry for your loss and wish I could give you huge hugs from all of us right now. You are an amazing, amazing, amazing person in every way! We miss you (and John)
      The Bailiffs.

      • Hurricane Rita December 30, 2012 at 4:01 PM #

        Thank you for your positive words, Lisa!!! I could feel your hugs across 1500 miles…We WILL visit whenever we hit the west coast next..tell Teagan and Treasure it could be a while…but they are always on my mind and in my heart!!! PS I still have the BFF bracelet on and the peace sign on my wrist!!! 😀

    • Hurricane Rita June 10, 2013 at 11:11 AM #

      What a beautiful, beautiful song! Thank you. I’m so glad we were able to cross paths, even if it was only for a short bus ride to the most beautiful place in the world. 🙂 I’m sure we can manage to cross paths again. 🙂

  5. William Hunter October 4, 2012 at 3:46 AM #

    Ah, shit sweetie. Now I’m crying.

    • Hurricane Rita May 29, 2013 at 8:06 AM #

      Ah shit, William. Me too.

  6. Don Poling October 4, 2012 at 5:31 AM #

    Every moment is like a jewel; the jewel is in the flower of the lotus – seeming timeless and indestructible in its beauty, yet so very transient as well. Prayers for the spirit heal the spirit; prayers for the departed heal the prayer. Yes, tomorrow is not guaranteed but each moment is immortal. A prayer for your father that his spirit may have peace.

    • Hurricane Rita June 10, 2013 at 11:12 AM #

      Beautiful word. Tomorrow is not Guaranteed, but Each Moment is Immortal. Huh. I like it. 😀

    • Hurricane Rita June 10, 2013 at 11:12 AM #

      Beautiful words. Tomorrow is not Guaranteed, but Each Moment is Immortal. Huh. I like it. 😀

  7. Lisa Melendez October 4, 2012 at 3:22 PM #

    Rita, you are an amazing person..full of love and life. Your words are a beautiful tribute to your father and reflect the loving bond that the two of you shared. Thank you for reminding me of the power and impact my words can have in the lives of others. I share your sentiment in that I want to speak healing, love and hope in the lives of those I come in contact. I said it before and I’ll say it again…you are a blessing and I am honored to call you my friend!

  8. Holly Jo Parnell October 4, 2012 at 5:29 PM #

    Love you RIta – My heart is full of my love for everyone as I read this. You send a strong message to give love out to this world. I appreciate you and am so grateful for your brave beautiful soul. RIP Rita’s Father. I sure love the video of you two. Peace Sister…Peace and Love.

  9. kip October 18, 2012 at 3:45 PM #

    let your rays shine bright …..your an amazing person…love u

  10. roger smith December 24, 2012 at 4:44 PM #

    Wow! You have an awesome ability to capture your feelings in words and appreciate life on a daily basis.

    • Hurricane Rita May 29, 2013 at 8:07 AM #

      Thank you, Roger. It’s the only way I know how to get it out. 🙂

  11. Glo July 12, 2013 at 4:48 PM #

    I continue to read this and I thank you for not being quiet and sharing your love about your father, my brother David its your words of love of this man that will continue to keep his memory alive. He lives on within us. Thank you Aurita !

  12. Rachel September 24, 2014 at 8:55 PM #

    I know this was written over a year ago but I was just today sept. 24 2014 that I found out about David’s passing. I worked with him from 2007-2009. He help guide me after I graduated nursing school and taught me so much. He was a teacher and friend and I am going to miss him very much. I just wanted to reach out to you. I know we have never met but he used to show me many pictures of his family which he was so very proud of.

    • Hurricane Rita September 27, 2014 at 11:49 AM #

      Thank you for your kind words. There is not a day I spend on this earth that I do not think of my father and smile softly. He was a beautiful soul, and an amazing teacher. I love him. I miss him. I’m crying. 🙂


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