Farewell Sweet Anam Kara

Have you ever listen to a piece of music that washed over you with an intensity that formed wells of sorrow and sadness as well fueled a sense of hope, all at the very same time? That is the feeling I had this afternoon as I listened to the piece called Memories by Ryan Stewart. The soft dance of the piano keys as Ryan’s fingers gingerly played up and down the keyboard.   The speeding up and slowing down and moving to high and low notes as if teasing you, or showing you what it is like to have the rolling surf move into and out of a rocky bay.   I can see the seagulls playing and hear them squawking as they plunge down into the water and then come back up with the catch firmly caught in their beaks.

 

For the past few days, I enjoyed one of those weekends that will be renewed in my mind each time I think of the sudden greening of the trees after a long winter. That delicate lace that appears in a gentle celery green, barely gracing the tree limbs. Just beginning their entry into spring and announcing that winter is likely over.   This weekend, the tree limbs went from bare to slightly green, not quite full bloom.   And on this weekend, I had my friend by my side.   We visited our old haunts. We were quiet at times in the car.   She is the kind of friend that allows space for thoughts, the kind where you don’t really have to talk all the time. You can just be.   It was a short quick weekend. Not quite the amount of time I needed, a gentle hello and then just as quick, goodbye.   Oh how I miss her as weeks and months tumble over themselves and life passes by.   I long for those days again, when each weekend is a special treat. A time to laugh, enjoy a coffee, discuss the week’s events and reflect on personal wants and needs. An authentic and deep friendship.   I have lovely acquaintances in my life, people whom I care for and with whom I yearn to grow in deeper and deeper friendship with over time.  The kind of friendship that I have with my Anam Kara.  That is what she is to me, Anam Kara.   A Celtic concept that completely describes who she is in my life.  Well, on reflection, I know now that this friendship is something that  we both took a bit for granted.    We didn’t really know what we had until it was gone. We had moved on to different chapters in our lives – equally.  It has been four years now since she moved thousands of miles away and we began our long distance friendship.   I treasure her more than ever. And, I hope we will maintain this depth of connection for the rest of our lives. That time will not erase us.

 

This past weekend and its newly formed memories has led me to the thought of chemistry. Of investment.   One does not cultivate this kind of depth in friendship without the requisite investment of time to nurture and feed that friendship. Intentional moments.   Thoughtful expressions, recognizing that which is beautiful in one another on a regular basis and sharing insights, cradling one another through challenges and persistently supporting one another through decisions, ambitions, hopes and fears- through the good and the bad. Praying for each other.  Checking in and finding out how things are going.  An important regular feature in sustaining a depth in friendship.  And, oer time, this nurturing endeavors to solidify the ties that bind us all together.

 

Dropping her off at the airport today was rough.   As we pulled her suitcases out of the trunk and we said our standard goodbyes… as we hugged and she turned and she pulled the roller board up onto the sidewalk and waved, and as I waved and as I left her and said to her: “Safe Travels” – she replied simply: “Thank you”.   And then, she walked through those automatic doors into the terminal, and I watched as her blue sweater dissolved into the dark back drop of the interior of the building until she was gone. All of those things are a standard fare for a long distance friendship.   And as all of this happened, as I found myself climbing back into the driver seat, turning the key in the ignition, putting the car into drive and releasing the brake – rolling away gently from the curb and heading towards the exit ramp … with all of those actions and my movement towards afternoon errands, putting myself into an automatic pilot position, I basically sank into a stupor.   A hard to come to grips with melancholy descended upon me and I know that it will likely hover around my shoulders for weeks to come. I miss her already and I dread the void she creates when we part ways.

 

I will return to business as usual.  I will get my haircut today.  At the moment, I sit in a coffee shop and write this entry and sip on an Iced Coconut Nirvana concoction. I try to concentrate on ideas for the novel.   I consider a future schedule of work commitments, group friendship commitments and future weekend brunch commitments. And I will enjoy them all.   I will learn to cherish those moments as much as my time with my sweet Anam Kara.   And, I will look forward to our future encounters which we have promised each other to plan, make sure to schedule something soon, so we can again reconnect. It’s my turn to come to her hometown, to finally see Mount Pearl.  And, when that happens, we will come together again and we will start the conversation right where we left off.

For that is how it is with an Anam Kara.

And today, I am so truly grateful to be able to say that have at least one Anam Kara in my life.

 

 

Ginger Curls

The unforgiving wind whipped her grey toned skin as she lay bare under the chill of a February sky.  Her body tangled up in layers of seaweed. Her ginger curls had lost their spring, long soaked by the waves lapping up from the shore.  It could still be quite a while before someone happened upon her in this isolated bay in the middle of winter.  Perhaps a hardcore fisherman who ignored the harshness of the season.  This abandonment had been well planned to give plenty of time for the elements to do their thing.  There would be little left of her by the time the authorities became involved.

Who is she? How did she end up lying on the shores of the majestic Oslofjorden, lodged between a few hefty boulders and covered in seaweed. Wrong place at the wrong time? What was her involvement with “The Group”? Was she followed and then eliminated by a master plan? Did she know too much? Was she inappropriately inquisitive with the wrong people?

Anita generally asked too many questions. She needed to know every detail. Her discernment meter could be a bit off when it came to certain people. She trusted too much. Martin had been leery of her ability to follow orders when it came to discretion. He questioned Otto’s judgment in bringing her into The Group in the first place. During her training, Martin would call out instances of weaknesses in her approach to various assignments to the higher ups, only to find his opinions batted away. They liked her. More importantly, Otto liked her. They all wanted to believe in her. Martin worried about her safety and the safety of his comrades. Would she end up being their worst vulnerability? Could her personality and innocence result in harm to the team, or worse yet- a disastrous end to a vital assignment? Otto was unconvinced that she had been a mistake. He kept repeating over and over again that she could be the Ace up their sleeve, the honey to draw the bees. With her supple body, brilliant red curls and sultry ruby red smile, she could be useful in uncovering hidden plots through the plying of her charms to the enemy. It was risky, but he felt she could be that sweetheart that softened a Nazi soldier into giving away secrets. It had perhaps been a naive proposal.

At any rate, she had not received enough training and they had not allowed enough time to fully ensure that she had the full understanding and scope of her difficult assignments; that she had the right appreciation for the necessary precautions that she must take. They had needed more time to hone her instinct. They had likely sent her out into enemy lines way too early. But time was not something for which they had a surplus. Each day and each month deepened the hold the Nazis had on Norway. Letting time pass was not something Martin or any of the leaders of the Group wanted to nurture without some progress in thwarting the Nazi master plan. So they pushed her out of the nest early, and hoped she could fly. And she flew like the best of them for a time. What they had not counted on was that her heart would get tangled up in a romance with one of the Nazis. They had not fully considered that she was a feeling young woman with hungers and hopes for a future that included full fledged romance and belonging. And, poor sweet Anita had trusted the wrong man. While her parents had no idea where Anita ended up, The Group had a strong suspicion that her disappearance had something to do with Helmut. She had not returned from that last assignment, and that assignment had everything to do with Helmut. He had been the key to advancing their project, to gaining better insight into the next steps.

Was this her fate,then? Lying in a pool of seawater, her eyes staring up at the heavens as if asking for help a bit too late. Her face was void of any meaningful expression, her soft green eyes offering only a blank stare up at the sky, as if to say: “look there, a fluffy cloud”. The innocence of her death would break anyone’s heart, even the coldest enemy couldn’t take this scene in without knowing that on both sides, people – human beings, were casualties of this war. Regular citizens trying to make a difference, becoming involved in the layers of intelligence that in a normal healthy world, would never have been necessary. These civilians would have led simple lives with regular jobs and marriages and children. But in these years of occupation, people stepped up. Ordinary people. And in some cases, these ordinary people did not have the skills or insights to properly navigate the traitorous waters of war.

As Anita lay in this agitated pool of seawater, one could not see any trace of a final fear or any strain in her soft face. There was no detection of tragedy to mark her final moments of life. It was as if her death had been a soft and simple comma in a long string of hopeful words. There was no exclamation point to be found here. This was a fade to black moment on an otherwise beautiful sun drenched horizon which invited the waters into a soothing embrace of her body, leaving behind dark green moist ribbons of seaweed to cover her up from peering eyes.

 

No one in her personal circle missed her because she had been absent for so long. It had been years since her parents and sister had seen her. Thinking back, her family might say she had been gone almost since the moment that those u-boats headed up the Oslofjorden in the Spring of 1939. But it wasn’t quite that long ago. It was actually just over a year into the conflict and occupation that Anita had found her way into a friendship with Otto, and it had made all the difference in her world. Her parents had never met Otto, but they knew of him. Anita had mentioned Otto to them early on in her friendship with him, but then just as suddenly, she stopped talking of him. Her parents did not know this, but her silence came along once she had been officially recruited into The Group. When her parents would ask about him, she would offer vague responses and then change the subject. In fact, on most topics, her usual bubbly and energetic responses were lacking. She had become more and more secretive. She had changed.

 

When she disappeared on that day in late August of 1940, they were not that surprised. They had a feeling she had gotten involved in something to do with the underground, but they were not sure of the exact details. They missed their sweet Anita. She was one of those people that commanded an audience. She always entered a room with a full voice and lifted people out of the doldrums. She was a mood booster. She enjoyed people and they enjoyed her. Her absence was definitely felt. The world was not the same without her. As with most people, Anita’s mother hated the war, but she despised it all the more because it had taken Anita from her.