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Part 1

Haven’t you heard many times that if you don’t listen to the whispers of the universe, the Universe will yell at you? I’ve heard it from Oprah, and Mark Nepo, and I’m pretty sure Marianne Williamson agrees. Well my universe didn’t just yell, it hit me on the head. And the universe, this last Super-Moon Saturday, two days ago, was a 200+lb nurse from Chico. His name, he said, was ‘Joe’.

True Story

As we approached from the west shore, Emerald Bay lay its bluest greens like peacock plumage around the enduring granite of Fannette Island. And as we circled the second parking lot, the objections of husband and daughter were drowned by the previous day’s idyll. The girlfriends had left and the family was here, it was the second last day of a Tahoe vacation and I knew exactly how the weekend would go.

“Mom, Let’s go to Meek’s Bay and try again later.”
“No you guys, you have no idea how fun it is to paddle to the island and hike to the old tea house. Jenny and I did it two days in a row. It just wasn’t this crowded.”
“But don’t drive around again okay? We keep just missing the parking spots. Let’s just come back later.”
“Remember the hike up to the lakes, how you whinged and moaned that it was too far? Well this is a short little walk down to a museum with kayaks and paddle boards and a sweet beach on the shores of Emerald Bay – and a dock to jump from. When I saw it, I couldn’t wait to bring you guys here. I’m not giving up.”
“Fine,” from the back seat, arms folded, Kent looking skeptical. I knew better.

A bank of clouds settled over the peaks above us, shadowing the trail, the Vikingshom Mansion and beach below. How perfect to hike in the cool looking out at the sun-bleached day that stretched from a line just offshore, to the watercraft circling the island, to the disco-blues of the water, to the silver-green pines of the east.

jumpFromDockThe dock was busy with families lining up to leap the impressive ~15 feet to water. Kent and Savannah jumped over and over, and then I joined them. Just stepped right out and wow, a cold and clear rush, and made it back to the surface, Savannah and Kent to my right and, Who was screaming ‘stop!’? and WHAM. My head. A body just hit my head. I surfaced again, my hands to my head, my legs treading water, but black. I could only see black. ‘Help,” I said quietly. Then blurry figures. Kent. My head, my head, like my scalp turned to butter. Blurry shapes. Voices, yelling. ‘Call an ambulance’, ‘no reception’. Come lay down, sit down, don’t close your eyes. Look in my eyes. Kent, yelling at someone, swearing. A hand rubbing circles on my back. A blurry, sweet soul next to me, so kind and calm.  A towel around my shoulders, ice on my neck. Watch my finger. The finger attached to Chico-Joe, built like a wrestler, smelling like beer. It’s blurry, I see it but it’s blurry. Can you smile? Hell no, you are not getting a smile from me. Oh crap, I actually can’t smile. I have to open my jaw, wide. My left sinus had shifted perceptively (is that possible?) and I felt it jostle in my head with any small movement.

“I’m from Healdsburg. Where do you live?” This voice from the blurry, noisy chaos. She smelled of children’s sunscreen. I knew she was evaluating me, she told me earlier (did she?) that she was a nurse. I dutifully watched her blurry finger move from side to side, let her test my grip and my coordination. She kept talking in my ear, calm, conversational, while they found my hysterical daughter. I could see enough, by the time she left, to catch the real concern in her eyes. Thank you. I hope I said it out loud.


supermoonKent and I talked it out that same night back at the cabin and decided that, in truth, there is some strange comfort in blaming someone when in the middle of this sort of shock phase, even though it’s not fashionable. For Savannah’s sake, we chose to transfer blame from ‘Joe’, to the Super Moon. At 10pm, we three traumatized souls walked out onto the longest pier, and talked to the moon. Kent yelled at it, asking (in essence) why the heck did it need to create such a conundrum? I told the moon that okay already, I heard, and I’ll listen more closely to the whispers of the universe, and try not to swim upstream. Savannah asked it to please behave better in the future. And we forgave that big hunk of moon. We forgave it and it smiled down on us.



I knew, at the time, exactly what part of the 200+ pound Joe hit me after he ignored the horrified onlookers and did a back flip on to my head. But that part of the memory has now gone. Kent and Savannah saw the impact, but they also can’t remember the detail of what actually hit my head – his feet? his buttocks? Was he tucked in a roll or stretched out to enter the water? None of us remember.

The next day, I lay on the sand at Meek’s Bay, iced and medicated. I wondered, what the heck was that all about – that split second that could have been it for me? The perils of alcohol for sure. And yes, stuff just happens. That too. Certainly I was blessed to have four nurses (three sober) and a dentist on the beach, all willing to help. What a gift. But what else?

I got this: That this really is it, this one life. It’s not for struggle, or for me to pummel into the shape I want it. It’s not a thin line through a forrest, but something to bathe in, a body of water, a lake or an ocean but with more dimensions that we can imagine. And, the big one: I already matter. I matter to my loved ones, I matter to the stranger on the dock, I matter just because I am. To everyone. And everyone matters, even Joe. That’s a lot of mattering.

Still Processing

It’s Monday, July 14. I spent an hour with my doctor today, tomorrow I get a precautionary neck X-Ray, Friday I see an eye doctor to evaluate a (hopefully transient) hemianopea (loss of visual field) on the right. Things are foggy. Words are a little tricky to find. But I’m grateful for all that wasn’t injured, and know it’s a miracle that I walked back up the path and back out onto a pier to yell at the moon that same day.

I wonder about the drunk ‘Joe’, the nurse from Chico. Is he a wee bit PTSD’d, like us? Does he wonder if there’s meaning to a preventable accident? Does he comprehend that he compressed someone’s skull onto their brain onto their neck from a great height?

I don’t know if the universe dropped Chico-Joe on my head to yell at me, to wake me up; or if my yell was Joe’s first whisper.

I just know that I’m still here, and I’m listening.


It’s Tuesday, July 15.  You probably already know, but I realize how premature it was to judge this crazy accident, to think I could find the lesson and close the door. I felt lucky, alive, secretly invincible. It was all just too neat and swoony. You were right.

I spent today in the ER.


. . . To be continued.


Super moon?

The point in the orbit when the moon is closest to Earth is called perigee. W.. Because of its proximity, it appears slightly larger and brighter and has earned the nickname of “super moon.” There are five of these this year, including three this summer on July 12, August 10, and September 9. Super moons can appear to be about 30% brighter and up to 14% larger than the average full moon.

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