I am in Nepal where a sign reads:
N = never
E = end
P = peace
A = and
L = love
the grandest of all desires which I understand will not be satisfied in my lifetime. Why am I in Nepal? I tell myself I need to assuage my appetite for love in the larger world of nature.
Being American and 68, I signed up for a weeks trek in the Annapurna section of the Himalayan mountains, hoping to beset my fear of “can I do this?” My spirit pulls me forward, upward, downward, for 6-7 hours per day, a bit less than 20 pounds carried on my back; small Nepalese porters carrying our tents, sleeping bags, down jackets and food gear, 60 pounds plus. I am incredulous of their strength.
Unconsciously, my trip just happened to include October 6th, the date of my daddy’s death in 1977. Though an adopted daughter, he’s the one who loved me as if I was his own DNA. He treasured nature’s beauty, passed on to me.
Dad was German, gained American citizenship, fought against Hitler in the US Army. But I digress and suppress when I needed to say ‘I love you’ to him, I can’t. We can’t. Fear stood in our way like a locked glass door only seen through. Love was verbally expressed only in our frequent cards and letters during nursing school and my early marriage. And, as a child, with chocolates in heart-shaped boxes on Valentine’s Day.
I feel him in the mountains (tears) and in the moon of Nepal. In a closer look into the eye of an elephant and in the fierce face of a one-horned rhino in Chitwan National Park. And, into the familiar eyes of 6 Germans met at this same park, October 6th, anniversary of his death, with whom I share meals for 2 days, 4 of us riding on an elephant.
I’ve trekked with 8 Aussies, strangers initially, and connected especially with Helena. We are the only ones who hug goodbye when their group leaves me, the only American. I think to my self, ‘I love you’ but the words do not form, like an ocean breaker never reaching the shore.
When I arrive home, my kitty, Radiance, cannot stay away from me, crying for petting which my tired body cannot refuse. I have been away for 2 weeks and I understand he needs reassurance that ‘I love you.’ Although he is an outdoor cat, and is usually independent, he sleeps next to my neck the first night, and continues to be on my lap as much as possible the second day, nudging my hand to stroke him. If only I could have touched my dear dad this way.
I feel daddy’s spirit converging with me by saying ‘I love you’ to my children everyday as they grew up…and listening for ‘I love yous’ in return now that they have birthed me grandchildren. This appetite I doubt will ever cease.