From the Windleblo log, 1300 hours, April 16, 2022: “The world ends. 048.11072N, 122.751419W.”
That’s the entry that records the time and place of my beloved First and Only Mate’s departure from this world.
On April 16th, my world ended when Jocelyn collapsed into my arms in the cockpit of the Windleblo as we were preparing lines and fenders for docking at the Port Townsend Boat Haven. Totally unexpected, it was a queen’s death, her light shining as bright as ever one minute, gone the next. It was Easter Sunday when her spirit soared from its earthly bonds.
Much has transpired since that moment. My children and I brought her home to Colorado. We produced a ceremony of gratitude as beautiful as she. We witnessed both grief and love evolve among family, friends, and community.
Now, I have returned to the Windleblo for a summer cruise just as Jocelyn and I have done for years. This time, I am calling it a “healing voyage.” I alternate between confidence and trepidation that this is the right next step for me.
Thirty-seven years ago today, I made Jocelyn my wife. To commemorate the occasion, today I sent Jocelyn an anniversary card. Here is the message I wrote inside:
Today is our 37th wedding anniversary and this is the anniversary card from your husband. As in past years, the salutation is simply “wife” and it is simply signed “husband.” Though that might seem impersonal, I know for you it’s unmistakable who it’s to and who it came from. For more than 36 years those terms have defined us.
The difference this year is your address. I am entrusting delivery of this card to the Canadian postal service. It is addressed to you, c/o God, in Heaven, because if you are reachable, I know that’s where you must be.
I won’t lie. Since you left, I have been a mess. Not knowing what else to do, I resolved to return to the boat this summer to go sailing just as you and I have for more than a decade. I arrived in British Columbia yesterday with Frida as my companion after a three-day drive from Colorado.
While on the road, I listened to a couple of books on tape that I downloaded using your Audible account. The books I chose are about what I am going through now, which is an extraordinary dose of grief at your departure from this world. They say the depth of your grief is equal to the depth of your love for the person you lost. If that is so, then I must have loved you very, very much.
One of the hopeful things I’ve learned from the books I listened to is that as all the sadness, pain, and suffering subsides a huge reservoir of love appears. Once I emerge from my grief, our love can combine us once again just as when you were alive. But for now, I must endure what I know to be the hardest thing I have ever done.
I know that when we came to the boat in April you were so close to finally casting off the tethers that held you to your commitments to others. You were just about to start doing all the things you wanted to do. The solo walkabout in Scotland you booked for yourself this September was to mark that transition.
Well, the kids and I have pledged to take you on that walkabout. We have spoken with Nathan at Celtic Trails and he has arranged for us to walk the very same route to St. Andrews that you chose. You will be with us as we do.
I think of you constantly, always with love in my heart, wondering if you can feel it. By now I expect you’ve made quite a few friends there, what with everyone falling in love with you the minute they meet you. Please tell them I envy how lucky they are to have you with them now.
End Note: I grew up and learned how to sail in Cohasset, Massachusetts. Just outside Cohasset harbor is Minots Ledge. Many a ship grounded and wrecked on Minots Ledge until a lighthouse was built there in 1850. As with all lighthouses, Minots has a signature light pattern. It blinks once, then, after a pause, four times, then another pause, and finally three times. Local lore has it that the one-four-three pattern stands for I LOVE YOU. Since I’ve known her, I’ve used this shorthand in closing many notes and letters to Jocelyn.