Notes from a Native Daughter

"Stalked by Rainbows" by Princess Rachella

Just got back from St. Louis, Missouri...

While Rachel is in Kenya, I've been babysitting her car...aka "FiFi".

Before turning FiFi over to me last July, Rachel told me that the brake sensor light/alarm was displaying ever so often...for me not to be "alarmed". I told her that I would see about getting it fixed.

Well, eight months later...

When I got back (a couple of hours ago), I just, not FiFi!

A "fit of moroseness" rose up and smote me last night...continuing through today. Even a side trip to the St. Louis "Butterfly House" failed to relieve my total feeling of loss. I had planned to buy some butterfly mementos at the gift shop...a reminder of THE "sign" that Julie sent me shortly after her funeral service. Instead, I watched a corny 20-minute butterfly movie in the theater...and left. Just wanted to get the hell out of town.

Too many reminders...too many thoughts.

St. Louis was Julie and my first favorite get-away...the zoo where Julie braved the snake house, the old Ramada Inn on Highway 40 (that was later taken over as a residence hall for St. Louis University students, Arthur's Restaurant in that same Ramada Inn (where we got a bit touchy-feely while imbibing at the bar), the St. Louis Airport Marriott where we stayed so many times (eating and drinking at the Firehouse Tavern...sans touchy feely), the President Riverboat where the Joneses held a once-in-a-lifetime reunion (one of the few times that all twelve Joneses were in the same place at the same time...for sure the last), and the list goes on and on!

So many wonderful times...nary a bad memory!

Oh, yes, there were a couple or three surgeries in St. Louis, but they all had happy endings.

Such was the state of my moroseness this afternoon that I even decided it was time to take another of Julie's "happy pills"...a bottle of antidepressants that we filled two days before her passing. I had tried one a couple of weeks ago...and felt terrible...swore I would never take another. However, after the first totally yucky day, I had two weeks that (for me) were pretty good.

After last night and today, I decided that one yucky day was not too high a price to pay!

When I awoke from my 45-minute cat nap, I decided to turn on the computer and checked out Rachel's blog...remembered her saying she was going to make her move.

Well, Rachel's blog (below) may explain my being "out of sorts"...again. Wouldn't be all that surprised that some long-distance emotion had landed on my shoulders. Julie has a way of making herself felt in two places at once even though they are separated by a few thousand miles.

I mean...

I did get a glimpse of a whole room of butterflies in the tropical conservatory.

And, on the drive back, a hawk did follow the car for a brief period.

It rained, but I won't lie and say I saw a rainbow.

But, after all...that's Rachel and Julie's thing!

Enjoy Rachel's blog...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stalked by Rainbows

The Eagle Has Landed. And her goose is cooked.

I'm reclining in bed in my spiffy new apartment, and am officially zonked beyond all human comprehension. I'll try to pull myself together long enough tomorrow to tell you all about my new digs, but for now, I just wanted to share something that happened on Monday evening, as I was frantically trying to tie up all the loose ends at work so I could take a few days off.

It was the worst possible time to ask me to focus on anything, and not just because I was overwhelmed by the move. You see, I had already put myself through an emotional meat-grinder on Sunday, just to top off the Byzantine level of move-related stress that was already roiling just below the surface. Right before I'd headed out to scrounge for empty boxes that morning, I'd flipped through the cable channels and saw that "Gladiator" was airing.

I LOVE that movie! And I'm the girly-girl type who normally hates violence and and epic costumed battle movies. And no, it's not just a Russell Crowe thing, although he was working those Roman get ups. I've seen "Gladiator" about 20 times now, and each time I'm utterly bowled over by the vivid symbolism of the movie. Every time Crowe's character Maximus envisions joining his wife and son "on the other side," my heart leaps into my throat.

And even before I'd had to shut my sister Julie's eyes after she died, I had always been so profoundly moved by the way the Emperor's daughter was so selfless and compassionate as he lay dying, and the way she lovingly helped him pass by shutting his eyes. "Go to them," she whispered, even though he was the only man she had ever loved. She knew that for Maximus, death was the greatest gift of all.

This time, I started wailing like somebody had taken the last fried chicken leg I'd put aside for later. I sobbed so hard, I got self-conscious about it and started looking for somebody to apologize to for being so loud and out of control. The movie left me so emotionally shaken, that's probably why I passed out for three hours when I got home.

Skip ahead 5 hours to just after I gobbled down the take away Indian food and gave myself a wicked case of indigestion. After more cable channel flipping, I stumbled across "Hilary and Jackie," the movie about the tortured relationship between an acclaimed cellist and her sister. Long story short, the acclaimed cellist develops multiple sclerosis and eventually dies shortly after her often estranged sister comes and visits her one last time.

It's one of the more brutal dying scenes I've ever seen, because actress Emily Watson has to flail and moan and writhe to convey the agony a person experiences in the final stages of the disease. Rachel Griffiths cradles Watson, trying to coax her to take some nutrition from a sippy cup, even though she's thrashing so wildly she can't down a drop. But something about the bond between sisters transcends everything, and eventually just being held by her sister and hearing her gentle voice made her stop flailing. She relaxed and her seemingly blank stare focused directly on her sister.

Griffiths character asks Watson's if she remembered a day on the beach decades earlier, when something bad had happened, and Watson's character had said, "Everything's going to be alright." Well, that's when I lost it again. That's when I started in with the soul-wrenching sobs, and the ache that reaches down to the pit of your gut. I desperately longed to see Julie once again, to touch her, and to have her tell me everything will be alright....even though I know it already is.

Oh, and I also longed to have her come and help me with my housewarming party. You see, Julie and I organized some amazing soirees over the years. Most of the major bashes I threw while living in DC were co-hosted by my big sis. Everything I know about cooking and hospitality I learned from Julie, and all of a sudden I felt alone and frightened thinking about trying to christen a new "home" without her by my side.

So by the time I headed out the door on Monday afternoon, the fact that the rains had come seemed totally appropriate. It had been bright and sunny for most of the day, but by 4, a heavy cloudbank moved in. By 5:15, there was a serious downpour. My phone battery had died, and so I darted through the streets near the Nation Centre hoping to find my driver Muthii, who was usually always parked nearby anyway. No such luck.

So I rounded a corner and decided to head for the nearest taxi stand before I got drenched. But then, something made me look up. What I saw made me gasp, literally and loudly. Stretched across the arc of the gray, cloudy sky was a rainbow.

That one had to be for my first "Gladiator" related-breakdown of the previous day, I concluded. I was literally too stunned to move, though I did notice the puzzled stares from passersby as they watched me standing there in the pouring rain looking up at the sky.

Anyway, I eventually found a taxi and headed out to the leafy suburbs. As we rounded a corner near Westgate Shopping Center....well, you guessed it. Another rainbow. This time the sucker was huge, and seemed to fill half the sky.

This time, I laughed out loud, and realized Julie had just sent me two rainbows because I had seen 2 movies that had ripped my heart out and made me long for her.

And so I made the driver stop so I could hop out of the cab in the pouring rain to take a picture. I was so upset that my BlackBerry phone wasn't powered up, but then I remembered I had shoved my back-up phone in my purse that morning, something I often forget to do.

When I figure out how to get the pictures off the Motorola and onto the laptop, I'll try and replace the generic rainbow picture up top with a picture of another one of Julie's Rainbows. Once again, she's telling me that she's been here all along.

Posted by Princess Rachella at 9:44 PM