Out Of The Woods (Part 2 of 2)
"...But life still goes on...I can't get used to...living without you by my side..."
- Queen. 1984
In the weeks leading up to the Whistler adventure, I spent some time thinking about what I wanted to experience when I visited that spot. How would I feel as I drove along the bumpy, winding forestry road? Would I see the posters of Darcy’s image, so lovingly posted along the power poles by well-intending friends and family during the search and rescue efforts? Would I be overcome with emotion and unable to cope with the flood of uncomfortable sensations? Would the God-of-my-understanding just nail me with a thunderbolt right then and there and end it all for me, too? Just thinking about it brought up ALL the memories of being frozen on my couch in September 2020, waiting for the call that would confirm his whereabouts…or his death…something. Anything. The call that would remove the mystery. The call that has never come.
It worked out that my soul sister, Veronika, could drive us and was willing to support me by being there as a witness and participant in this experience. I am grateful to have many beautiful souls in my life who are so comfortable in their own gifts and so capable of holding space for others that they would confidently walk into the unknown with me, knowing that they would understand, in the moment, exactly what I needed from them. Knowing that they, too, are richer for any experience they endure, even when it is uncomfortable and unpredictable. This is something I value so very much about my friends. They know themselves so well that they are able to show up for others, even in the most dire of circumstances. And one thing WAS for sure. I knew that whatever would come of that walk in the woods, when it was all done (provided the lightning bolt scenario didn’t take place!) I would end up cozy in a cabin later that day with the beautiful souls who truly make up the softest place to land. I was safe. I was loved. I could DO this. And my heart told me that something amazing would come from it. So, we went.
On the drive up the Sea To Sky highway, gazing out at the Howe Sound, I surprised myself with how light I felt. I wasn’t anxious as I had expected I’d be. Veronika and I chatted easily about our lives and before we knew it, we had reached the last spot to pee before we headed into the deep woods. It seemed like a good idea. It was pouring rain but I had no idea how long we might be out there. I didn’t think having to squat in the forest was going to add to the experience so we pulled over and took our last deep breaths. The next turn off was ours. Next stop…my biggest nightmare.
Our pit-stop to pee at the Mining Museum... Cash came with, for moral support!
My brother had been heavily involved in the search and was able to send us directions that led to key locations from the events that followed Darcy’s disappearance. He noted the places he felt may help with my healing if I confronted them in person. The pull-out where Darcy’s car was parked and locked for the last time. The trails where one would have presumably taken a walk from that parking spot. The bridge over the rushing falls that feed the Mamquam River. I had heard of all these places before. They had been described to me time and again by many different police officers, search and rescue volunteers, and other friends who had taken part in the search efforts. I felt like I knew these places well…I felt like I had been there before…and, of course, I had my own visions of ALL the things that could have possibly happened out there. Visions that I had replayed in my mind so many times, I knew every detail. I had battled with the details for so long that I really had come to believe in them. I had even found some comfort in those visions - despite how horrific they were - for at least they offered a surreal sort of consolation prize to closure. Those visions had brought me temporary peace, a thousand times or more.
As we got closer to the site, there was part of me that worried that it would be NOTHING like I envisioned, and I’d be left with a whole NEW vision in my head to dissect and delete and destroy. It was kind of like the way we think we KNOW a celebrity because we see them so often and they are always playing a starring role in our lives through television and movies and magazines. We decide we know who they are, the nuances of their personality, and what they are like in real life but we can only hope they would live up to our expectations if we were ever to meet them. This is how I felt about going into those woods. Like I was standing in line for an autograph, just praying Brad Pitt didn’t turn out to be a douchebag. I’d have to start the healing all over again with a whole new kind of pain.
(If you need a break from the epic suspense of this blog post, I invite you to click on this link to enjoy many many images of the glorious Brad Pitt, through the ages! You're welcome!)
But we went. And as we drove, we saw the posters, perfectly preserved in their plastic sleeves to protect them from the elements. I felt like I was going back in time. Back to a time where there was some sort of hope of him being found, dead or alive. Back to a time when I thought of him as “missing” instead of just gone. The mystery of it all came flooding back and as we parked and donned our rain gear for the torrential downpour, I felt like there was something to solve.
We walked randomly for about three hours. Talking about what might have been going through Darcy’s mind when he chose a path to walk that day. Would he have turned here and gone towards the river? Would he have taken a left at the fork in the road and headed up to a higher plain? Did he feel drawn to the old-growth forest and somehow slip into the unforgiving current of the river that was running so high on that day? We talked it through. Over and over again. We explored every possible route. We explored every possible thought he might have been entertaining. But alas, no answers. No lightning bolts (thankfully). No mystery solved.
The mighty Mamquam...
We were soaked to the bone and ready to call it a day when we decided that one last little pilgrimage toward the river might land us in a place that at least felt like a good spot to be still for a moment. A place to offer up the things that I had brought with me to sacrifice to the river, for my own healing. I had written a four page “forgiveness letter” (based on the Hawaiian tradition of the ho’oponopono) to free me from the residual anger and abandonment I still had stored in my heart. I also brought my beloved healing mala beads. A gift from my soul-circle that had come unstrung somewhere along my healing journey. I took a quiet moment in those trees to fill my heart space with gratitude for the beauty that came into my life through my experience of Darcy and for the great gifts that had come from the loss of him, too. And then I offered those beads and the letter up to the river which swallowed them whole, without ceremony, in a heartbeat. That was my symbolic message to Darcy that I was healing. That was my confirmation to myself that I had healed. That was the moment that I knew I was ready to forgive him, the universe and myself for the uncertainty that comes with life and the deep grief that comes with the loss of a massive love like ours.
The place where I released the healing offerings to the river...
As we drove back along the road, Veronika fulfilled her personal mission to take down all the “missing person” posters that suggested he was somehow still out there in the world, waiting to be found. As she methodically hopped in and out of the driver’s seat, tearing down the plastic sleeves, I methodically tore down the last of the mystery in my mind and heart. There was nothing to be solved here. There never was. It was as simple as this. Accidents happen. People die. Souls choose an exit point. Circumstances occur and the impossible becomes reality. That is all.
It brought to mind the memory of a night, just about a month after Darcy left. I was doing the bed and bath time routine with my kids and Miller was struggling with not knowing exactly what had just happened to his father. I was struggling with it too and we held each other in tears, when Summer offered up her thoughts from the tub.
“Only Dad will ever know what happened,” she said as she slipped under the surface of the bathwater, momentarily. “And we need to be comfortable with that now, Mom.”
She was right.
After the initial venture into the woods, I felt called back a couple of times that weekend, and I was grateful to be with Veronika who felt called, too. Once, to find the spot where the car had been. I felt like I needed to see that for some reason, and so I honoured the call. Nearby, Veronika and I stumbled upon the most serene little grotto with a beautiful, still pond and looming moss-covered trees. We each took a minute of solitude to say some prayers for our own healing in this life and I think it was helpful for our hearts. Then we went back, once more, to get a little closer to that raging river. The river that I believe swallowed Darcy up that day and swept him out to sea. I felt like I needed to understand the ferocity of it. To feel the power of it. The power of nature that man can never surmount.
As we drove the familiar route, we were marvelling at the first appearance of sunshine all weekend! Finally, we would get to experience a new, less soggy, version of those woods. But then, just as we turned onto that forestry road for the third time, the rains started to come down in sheets. I laughed out loud. I could almost hear his voice saying “Okay ladies. Take it easy. Enough now.”
I wasn’t really sure how I felt as the weekend came to an end. I couldn’t really find many words to describe it except that something felt complete. There was a sense of relief. I knew that in time, there would be visible results of the healing that occurred just from being in that space and in that energy. From confronting something that had been the source of such internal drama and fear. I knew it would take some time to integrate into my psyche and my cells but I could be patient.
I can assure you that real peace has arrived for me. It has come from letting go of that mystery and removing the space between myself and that location and all the weight it has carried in my heart and mind for the past year. The mystery is gone. The need for understanding is gone. The need for closure is gone. Nothing that happened out there on that day is even real anymore. All that is real is the now. And my NOW…is extraordinary. I left something big and heavy out there in the woods that weekend and I was ready to offload it. That is absolutely why this opportunity presented itself and I am so grateful that it did. I am also grateful that I know how to accept an invitation from the universe when it’s offered and that I am surrounded by friends that will waltz into the woods with me at a moments notice.
About a month after the trek, I arranged a little tarot card reading for myself, for fun, with my friend Sarah. She is a gifted card reader and her interpretations are always so thoughtful and insightful. Reading the cards really just offers us an opportunity to get together and shoot the shit about the things that are top of mind and Sarah’s innate ability to translate the stories of the tarot always leaves me feeling more closely connected to the universe and myself. I always land into a deeper understanding of my extraordinary life.
When she pulled the 6 of Swords for me, my heart skipped a beat as she held up the image. A serene woman in the front of a canoe. Armed with her six swords and peaceful resting face. The canoe is being powered by someone else, a person or an energy perhaps, that is offering the strength and force to get her across the body of water without her exerting any effort. She is armed and peaceful. She is safe and at ease. Behind the canoe, on dry land is a scene of mountains and trees. There is a grey building on stilts that reminds me of the mining museum Veronika and I stopped at to pee before our hike that day. The building is on fire.
The Six of Swords
As I shared the experience of my trip to the woods with Sarah we both felt that the scene represented me, heading confidently toward something totally new, across the water. We talked about the symbolism of the fire and how it represented the burning down of the past for me. It represented the death of all that I thought was certain in this life I had with Darcy. It represented the death of the burden I had left behind in that forest. It represented freedom and the fire that I intentionally SET that day as I made my way...out of the woods.
Til Next Time,
Heal & Be Healed.
PS. If you are interested in a spectacular tarot card reading to support your healing or to indulge in great conversation with a gifted interpreter, please reach out and I will connect you with Sarah for an amazing experience! Or contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. email@example.com .