with the great oceanic question mark from which we momentarily crest
Chloe, you have the biggest, kindest, most compassionate heart. Norman and Simon were lucky to be united through you. They look so happy.
I simply love your writing Chloe. Since losing my twin sister aged thirty to Hodgkins Lymphoma, death has held no fear for me, it holds instead a frisson of excitement, for our inevitable reunion.
Gorgeous Chloe. Such powerful images, the bird brothers and the two of you holding each other in St P. Enjoyed David’s piece a lot too. It made the hairs on the back of my neck raise: darkness induces powerful claustrophobia in me. Thank you for this.
Dearest Chloe, I adored this story on my first reading, and love it even more completely with this second. And I am so very touched and grateful that you added your voice to your words... I love being read to, love being told a story. What a gift this is. And is that image of The Meeting Place a new addition? Perhaps so, perhaps I missed it the first time. Either way, it is such a lovely visual anchor for the reunion part of your story. And what a treat to be allowed a glimpse of Norman and Simon, together. I am your devoted and grateful fan.
My first Sparrow handed to me after being found in a grid at maybe age 8 or 9, people always brought me animals (good old days) resulted in my first trip to a Vet who accidentally killed my fragile friend. I remember it very clearly saying no as the knowing adult decided to lance a small access by the tiny bird's throat then it keeled over and died.
Death to those who have worked at the Vets is a bit different I suppose.
But I love the dark, enjoy seeing those faces and images run through my mind.
I have never actually felt uncomfortable in my own body always ponder a lot when others say that, perhaps that's coz I had dance training and a lot of that is about being present in your whole body.
Reunions with any old friends are good, like we leave a group of good friends knowing we hope to see them again sometime but no more than that.
Lovely to hear of you Chloe and David nurturing our little birdies and loving the dark Thank you ❤️ 🐦
I needed to hear this today. I’ve been in physical pain for a couple of days. Your words, and the way you deliver them are like a healing salve. Thank you you. 🙏
As always, I loved this! I nearly cried with happiness myself at your story of Norman and Simon, as well as your reunion with David. And I loved the way you framed Death as a reunion. I've always believed it will be a reunion with those gone before, but I haven't given it quite as much thought the way you said, as a "reunion with the great, oceanic question mark from which we momentarily crest—or, simply, a reunion of the elements out of which we are made with the planet, and the cosmos, from where those elements came."
The reunion that first came to mind for me was with my boy. He's four now, but when he was almost 9 months old, he had a serious medical emergency. A rhinovirus took hold and in the span of 24 hours he went from having a runny nose to being life flighted from a small town hospital to a children's hospital better equipped to save him. Before we boarded the plane, they intubated and sedated him. There was a truly terrifying point where I could see on the doctor's faces that they weren't sure he was going to pull through. For several days, he was unconscious. He fought the sedation so much, they had to jerry rig a restraint by tucking his arms under a blanket. It's funny now, because that is so like him. Contrary and persistent. Anyway, finally they decided to end the sedation. It was more dangerous to keep him under than wake him up at that point, the little rascal. When he woke up and I was finally able to hold him again...that was a reunion I'll never forget. There were still several days in the hospital to endure, but soon his Daddy was able to pick us up to take us home, and that was another beautiful reunion. And then, at home, with his brothers...goodness.
My thoughts have been lingering often on the idea of connection, union. How that forms, how it can be broken, and when reunion is possible. When it isn't. What it might take to make it possible. Thank you so much for your post. I'm excited to read about David's dark retreat!
I’m going to read/listen to David’s experience, but before I do, I just wanted to tell you, Chloe, that I enjoyed listening to your recording. I’m still having to find time to do my own recording for my most recent post, but I sincerely enjoyed reading and then listening to you talk💞
Your story of re:union made me think of my two cats. I brought them both inside in Jan of this year, one at a time. Before I brought them in, though, they hadn’t really been apart. Born littermates (I’m 99.99% positive of this), I noticed them running around the apartment complex I live in. The area is known to be friendly to strays, and there are plenty of cats running around.
Long story short, Nalia befriended me and decided I was her human, while Salem gradually accepted me. After months of building up trust, I brought Nalia inside permantely first. She was okay for a day, but I could tell that she deeply missed her sister. Salem came in two days later, and she wasn’t happy about being inside at first. It took about two weeks, but I got her to finally accept being indoors. Nalia was happy that she had her sister inside with her, while also letting me know that she was happy to have adopted me.
The three of us suffered a loss of kittens (Salem’s), and she found solace in Nalia, and after I had to keep them apart while they both recovered from being spayed, they were both very happy to be back together, even though they were both in the same house, but seperated via a crate one at a time. Except for seperate carriers that they were in when I used to take them on car rides together, they haven’t been seperated since. That’s a story that I already have typed out in more detail, and will eventually release as an article...someday, when the pain that’s faded some has faded some more.
Thank you for writing this post and making a voiceover💜
Lovely read Chloe and I’m so glad Norman and Simon are reunited! So much to digest in your offerings, and the black retreat, wowsers, that sounds hectic. Reunion is a major theme threading through just about everything in my life and work now - reunion with self, each other and the other than human world including death. Healing the wounds and the illusion of our separation. Big love to you and thanks again for your beautiful story telling and wisdom. X
So beautiful ... I cried, twice ... thank you 💗
Overjoyed at Simon & Norman's reunion, Chloe! And overawed by David's dark retreat - I remember reading about it awhile back, seeing pictures. Good heavens. I hope he had some experience with sensory deprivation tanks first? Some people become unhinged.
Defeat. Why am I triggered by gravel-voiced men? I couldn't listen to it, but I read it, and award-disdaining me loves it. :)
I listened to this whilst communiting my way home from work and it was a joy and a delight to hear your voice speaking of Norman and Simon, realising at the same moment that David did as to what was about to happen. Amazing.
(And now I've just gone to reread several parts. Lovely writing as ever, Chloe. Such a flow of words.)
I'm also in awe of David's dark retreat. I'd like to try it, but I don't know if I could last that long. The whole thing fascinates me, though, especially the experience it may elicit.
"the great, oceanic question mark from which we momentarily crest" 😍
^this, as well as returning my borrowed atoms back to the cosmos, so they may be utilised for another.
Re: re:union (love that title, btw 😉). Your moment with David at St Pancras gave me such a smile and makes me think of me and Jo. Whenever we're apart for more than a day (which is rare), I'm always in this place of feeling incomplete until that moment we're together again. Hard to write it out, and not in some soppy sense, but just in a sense of being, well, incomplete.
Thanks for brightening a Monday, Chloe.
This was fantastic! The story of Norman and Simon’s reunion was so cute!
And I had never heard of a dark retreat before - it is such an interesting concept. Also the way you tied all of this together and illuminated how even death is a reunion of sorts, was brilliant.
Great read Chloe.
Such powerful writing, I’m in awe!
A reunion story. This is la bit long, I'm going to dare to post it here. I hope you will enjoy it, Chloe. I am so grateful for this vivid remembrance, to have it so active in me again.
Thank you, Chloe, for your beautiful telling, inviting us to see and feel your stories of reunion, so beautifully woven together.
You ask of our experience of reunion and many images came to mind. This morning as I woke up to the day, one rather unusual and intensely joyful reunion came to mind.
I lived on a beach in the Bahamas for many years and enjoyed almost daily encounters with dolphin. Most often when I was alone at night, resting in a hammock at the end of the long dock, the dolphins would come, I always felt to comfort me. I would hear them blowing as they approached, and they would lift themselves just a bit out of the sea to look right at me as I gazed over the edge of the dock. They would splash and play for a bit, as if reminding me that all is well, before they disappeared into the dark sea, creating a trail of sparkling luminescence behind them.
They showed up if we had a special party on the beach, a wedding perhaps, came right in to the beach, about five of them, they seem to love celebrations.
When all of my kids and I had a moonlight skinny dip and played games in the sparkling sea, the dolphins would come, drawn by the laughter and the joy of our gathering.
I became an activist on their behalf, successfully initiating the creation of legislation against capture of all marine mammals throughout the vast waters of the Bahamas. I had come to know them so well in the wild and to feel deeply how wrong it is to capture them and hold them in any enclosure of any sort. My ire rises slightly even now to write this so many decades later.
In the 1970s I met an unusual man along the way, Dr. John Lily, already famous for his work with dolphins. He had sound reel after sound reel of dolphins speaking to each other and was interpreting their language, attempting to speak back to them. John had three doctoral degrees and a deep level of intuition, all of which was soon to come into question for me.
John Lily had taken over an old bank building in Coconut Grove, a village like suburb of Miami in Florida, where he was doing research on ‘his’ dolphins. (I reacted instantly. They are not ‘his’.) When I visited him there, he took me down where the bank vault had been and there John had created a swimming pool where he was keeping ‘his’ two dolphins. In murky water, not a drop of sunlight. I was appalled. And, if that was not bad enough, he was experimenting on them with LSD.
Each time I visited Notchy, with the notable notch in his dorsal fin, and his lovely pal Daisy, they came immediately to the edge of the pool and rose up out of the water to look right at me. “I always know when you are coming,” John told me, “they come to the pool window to wait for you.” I got in and swam with them, happy to be their playmate for these few moments, arcing in and out of the water with them.
I said, “You know you have to let them go.”
Lily said, “I knew when we met you were going to do this to me.”
I said, “Well then, you were right.”
I called him again and again, saying that he must release them, they could not live like this, captive in a dark, sunless, sea less space. It was cruel and he was too smart to not know that. He finally sighed, “Alright. I know you are right.”
He released Notchy and Daisy on a sparkling sunny day from Key Biscayne, my young son Scot was with them. They called me over in the islands that morning, Scottie was especially excited. “Mom! They jumped high out of the water again and again, looking right at us. They were saying goodbye. They were so happy, Mom!” And so it was done.
Our fervent hope was that they would survive in the wild after being captive, a chance I thought we had to take, a better option than keeping them captive a moment longer.
Two hundred miles south of Key Biscayne, Florida lies my island of Andros in the Bahamas.
It is called The Sleeping Giant. Only the eastern coast is habitable, with splendid beaches, small villages, a shimmering aqua lagoon facing the third largest barrier reef in the world. Primal wilderness, both out past the reef with a depth of 6000 feet, and facing westward across the island to the far side of Andros. 50 miles of harsh coral rock with deep holes holding blue green algae which breathes out oxygen, making earth habitable for man. There are no roads for these 50 miles to the western coast where the aqua shallow sea reaches to the horizon and wraps up into the sky. It takes a full day to go by boat through the island, through a labyrinth of waterways. In old times sponge fishermen went there in their sailing sloops, the sponges now ‘gone long time’, as we say on the island.
We landed our small plane on the hard baked mud so we could explore what we call 'the west side'. It was so silent as we stepped out of the plane, we could hear the rustle of the herons’ wings as they flew right over us, as if challenging our presence in this place.
I walked first to the mouth of the river winding inland from the intense aqua shallow sea. I was startled to see a fin heading into this river passage. “Is this a shark moving into the river?” I puzzled. I stepped into the white sand mud at the edge of the river, to watch. The fin divided into two fins. And it seemed now that they were slowly heading directly towards me. I stood as still as a heron. As the fins slowly came closer I saw the notch in the dorsal fin. Yes! Yes!! It was Notchy, and Daisy! I recognized them now, as they had recognized me when they changed their course to swim towards me. I moved deeper into the water, slipped quietly in lowering myself up to my chest.
When they were right next to me they both surfaced, their eyes above water level, and yes, they looked me straight in the eyes. We saw each other. We knew each other. This moment of absolute recognition created a vibration, a thrill through my entire being. An ecstasy. A belonging.
To this wild place and to these wild beings. To this reunion. To this union.
Notchy and Daisy rested against me, embracing me with their bodies. Here in this untouched wild primal space with not another soul within 50 miles, we had found each other again.