When someone we know and care about passes away in an untimely manner, every beat of our heart sends sorrow coursing through us. Every time we drive by those spots where someone breathed their last breath (San Simeon Creek Road, Santa Rosa Creek Road, Highway 1 and other local streets) we recall our interactions with these special people. We see their faces. We remember their laughter. We think of them as they were and we miss them. We feel their absence and wonder what they might be doing now, if only they had not departed. Time does not change this. We do not forget.
One hit after another, the people of Cambria are taking a beating. With the loss of several community members in such a short time, especially in a small town like ours, everyone feels every blow. At first, shock stuns us, stops us in our tracks. Then we begin to realize that life, as we knew it, will never be the same.
That person you waved at today, that local you smiled at, that friendly neighbor you said hello to at the post office or the grocery store, that fellow Cambrian you know well, or casually, could be gone tomorrow. As disconcerting, as it is, we all know there are no guarantees when it comes to life span. The good news, we as individuals, and we as a village of fine folks, can make the most of a person’s life by acknowledging, accepting and appreciating them whenever opportunities arise.
It’s hard to think and see clearly through tears of sadness. Like being in a thick fog that cloaks the land, we may become disoriented, confused, lost. From here, we must progress with caution and care. Knocked to our knees, we wonder how to get back up—and when we do, we take tentative steps that gradually move us forward as we feel our way through grief’s terrain. With our hands outstretched in front and to the sides of ourselves we search for something we can count on, something solid, or something stable to hang on to, to lean on, or to brace our backs against, as we slide to the earth because it is too much to stand. Yet we do stand.
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Together, in support of our people, be they a blood relative, a friend or a neighbor, we unite. We mourn collectively. We are not alone. We are family with much in common. We are blessed beyond measure to have each other.
Michele Oksen’s column is special to The Cambrian. Email the resident of Cambria’s mountain community in the Santa Lucia range at overtheridge@sbc global.net.