This morning, instead of heading off to work, I drove in the opposite direction towards Monterey. My van was packed with everything that I needed for a long run and the couple of handfuls of ashes that have sat on top of my refrigerator for the past many months. It was a beautiful day as I drove past the agricultural area and into the fog of the Monterey County.
I got teary eyes a couple of times, but mostly I felt good. I realized that I’ve spent the majority of the past year feeling robbed that I never got a chance to say “good-bye” to Papa. The plan was to carry the ashes on the long run and possibly say good-bye to them if it felt right. I figured 8 miles out ought to do it.
As I got off the freeway in Pacific Grove, I saw runners immediately. I pulled into the parking lot and began my preparations. I asked a couple the directions to run towards 17 mile drive. When they found out I was running (not cycling) they said that I should park much closer. Of course I didn’t listen to them.
I began the run at a nice easy pace. I was willing to go 10 miles out if I needed to for the spot that felt right. I didn’t quite know what to expect. My fuel belt was loaded. I had my cell phone, my iPod, 2 GU gels, a snack bar, my epi-pen, and the keys to the van. In my hand was a large white container (1/3 full) of the ashes.
At Lover’s Point, I remembered my Mom suggesting that I leave the ashes there. While I knew it wasn’t the right spot for me, I left a sprinkle there for her. I remember hanging out with my Mom and him as a young girl, walking with them along these same sandy trails that meander along the ocean. We had a few good times here.
The run continued along the ocean where the thin path would wind between the plant life and along Ocean View Blvd. It was challenging to keep to the trail. There were the obstacles of people, eroded areas, and places where the trail would just end.
Finally, I came to my first golf course. This was the real reason why I choose this area. He loved golfing. I figured that he probably had been golfing on this course, but I continued onward. The waves were crashing against the rocks and the high splashing water was an impressive sight. The cool ocean wind was refreshing.
I was soon running through Asilomar State Beach. The area was beautiful. I ran on the little trails that were linked together with boardwalks. I only had to go up to the main road a couple of times.
All along the way, I saw areas that were private and lovely areas to say my good-bye. I was waiting for a sign and in the back of my mind I heard “8 miles.” I kept on running, taking in a GU here and my snack bar there. And then I saw it. In the far distance, I could see another golf course. I knew my spot would be somewhere near there.
I kept running and soon saw a sign saying “17 mile Drive.” This was a surprise because I actually thought that I was already on it. I took the dirt path in to where the trail went off in two different directions. I stopped, unsure of where to go, and then I saw a fawn. I just stood there and watched her looking at me. I waited for her to make her move, and then I moved in the opposite direction so as not to scare her.
Well, that path took me right onto the paved path for the golf carts. I ran along hoping to find a way off. This couldn’t be okay, I thought, or could it. Some golfers waved at me. I ran on. Just as I was hopping off the paved path, I saw a small green towel. I left it there and got onto a nice dirt path that paralleled the golf course. The towel stayed in my head for some reason. I decided that I’d pick it up if it was still there on my way back.
About another mile on, I saw a nice opening. I was tired and felt like stopping and this spot looked so inviting. So VERY inviting. Could this be it? I looked at Garminia and she signaled “8.0” – yes, this *is* the spot. So in the trees, just under a fern, a couple of handfuls of ashes fell. They were right at home.
I ran back towards my van. My legs were tired. My job was done. I wiped my sweat from my forehead with the small green towel as I made my way back.
But, I didn’t say Good-Bye today. Instead, I said Hello. I remembered what YaYa had said at Papa’s memorial. He said that Papa is now a ghost. YaYa had told everyone, “Whenever I want to talk to him, I just close my eyes and use my imagination. Hello Papa.”
Hellos are so much more soothing than Good-Byes. I guess *that* is why we didn’t get to say good-bye; we weren’t supposed to. In loving memory, always.