I came to this island to write.
I came to this island to die.
In the back of my mind, I've wondered when the terminal illness I have not yet discovered will reveal itself. Did You bring me here to die?
Why else would You give me the keys to the kingdom with outstretched arms when I asked for them? Why else would You swing these doors wide open and invite me to come? Why else would our journey south take this miraculous and unexpected turn northwest and within, then bring us back to Whidbey?
Back, "...bring us back." I sense I have lived here once before.
Perhaps, but I haven't written, and I'm still alive.
I didn't think it through. It all happened so quickly. There was no time to analyze, to examine, to obsess, to weigh, to measure and to count all the costs. I think it was by design.
Now, I am beginning to see and to understand that in order to grasp a thing, to truly master and perfect it, we must poke and prod, unglue and undo at the expense of life. Absolution, completion, knowledge and rebirth are only possible by way of death.
"This year, 2009, is the year of the Lord's favor for my family and for me. It marks a turning point, a new beginning... "
I had no idea what it would mean for me to write these words down and to speak them aloud. How could I have known how much it would cost to take these keys from You?
With the great reward of freedom and change comes a great price.
I asked to go deeper. I asked for more. I purged and pruned, and the path became clear. As it unfolded, I followed you to this peaceful place, where the air is gravid and grey. I am home in a way like no where before. I am where I've been aching to be. It is overwhelming.
Yet in the shadows has come terrifying darkness. In the black of early morning, I can no longer see the road beneath my feet or my hand before my face. As fires that raged have burned out, I have grown cold and unsure. The sharp tools I once used have grown dull and obsolete. The clothes I donned are incongruous and ill-fitting, and yesterday's order wears the mask of a stranger.
With my words and my request, with the light from my lamp, with the shuffle of my steps, with the jingle of these keys, with the creak of this door and the timbre of my "Yes," I have roused a resting giant and stirred this sleeping cancer. She bears the name Fear. She bears the name Obsession. She bears the name Compulsion. She bears the name Deception. She also bears my name.
I came to this island to die.
In the thick of these clouds, You have helped me to see what I couldn't and wouldn't day after day in perpetual sunshine. My eyes are adjusting, and the walls of this prison I've erected have come into focus. Brick by rigid brick, I have fortified myself in this shell that no longer suits me.
Abimbola. Abi, come.
In the shade of tall trees, you have wiped my brow, rubbed my back, and given me time and space to rest. You've revealed the salve of Sudoku and crossword puzzles, and You have strengthened me with bread, wine, and fresh oil for my lamp. With neither fanfare nor guarantees, You have called me by name and bid me once again to come.
I only see the doorway in the faint flicker from my lamp, but that which lies on the other side of this wall is dim. I have tasted the wine you turned, then shed, and I know You have traveled this road before. I needn't walk it alone.
This week, through my mother, my father, my soul sister, my children, a medicine woman, my pen pal and my partner, You have opened my eyes. You have restored my hope and graced me with courage to face my own death.
So tonight, in the earliest hours of my 70th day on this island, I lay myself to rest. With gratitude, I reclaim my joy, my hope and my name, and I sprinkle these ashes atop the rubble at the trail head of this less-traveled road. I look forward to the day when words will rise as the dust from these ashes.
And with the morning sun, I too will rise again.
Abi: a Yoruba prefix meaning birthed; born