Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Postcards to Robert

There Are People Who Never Leave Your Heart.

August 15, 2009

Dear Robert,

This afternoon I was sorting through some books and came across a book you had sent to me, a forgotten treasure. I opened “Courage to Change” and on the inside cover was an inscription from you: To Rebekah, The most courageous girl I know. Always my love, Robert. I don’t know where you are or where to send this postcard, but I’m feeling the need to connect, to conjure our brief time together in Oban and the Isle of Mull all those years ago. Sometimes I look at the snapshots of you standing on the pier in Craignure waving to me as the ferry pulled away & headed to Oban. As your sister, Mary, said to me, You know things, Rebekah. I knew that I would see you again. And I did. And those two days we spent in Oban were some of the most tender and bittersweet of my life. 


Robert waving to me from the Craignure Pier.

 September 23, 2009

Dear Robert,

Me again. I sent the last postcard to your sister Mary. I hope it reaches her and I hope it reaches you. When I was in Scotland in May this year, you haunted my every step. I walked the paths we walked, gazed at the bay we sat by and talked for hours and heard the caw of the crows that always alerted me to your presence. But you weren’t there with your crackling blue eyes and full lips under your neatly trimmed mustache. No one spoke to me in that soft Scottish brogue with the lyrical undertone of Gaelic.

I miss you,


Robert, Mary, Rebekah, Malcolm, Ian.  Rebekah’s going away party.

October 30, 2009

Dear Robert,

You appeared to me last night, just like you did years ago when you were having surgery and I knew you had appeared for a reason. This time, I don’t know why you appeared. I hope it’s not a bad sign. I can’t get the music of your sweet voice out of my ear. Can’t close my eyes without feeling your touch. I wish I knew where you were and I suppose I hope you are happy, but I’d rather you’d be happy with me.



 Ferry from Oban to the Isle of Mull

November 15, 2009

Dear Robert,

Still trying to reach you. Now that I’ve started I can’t let it go.  Thinking of when you told me you came into the Isle of Mull Hotel, on the advice of your sister, where I was working the summer of 1995.  She thought we should meet. You told me later that I was busy helping behind the bar so you just stayed back and watched me as I pulled a pint of Guinness for a guest. You said I had the brightest aura of anyone you’d ever seen. It’s still shining bright. How many light years are you away from me? Pulling a pint of Guinness is an art form that takes patience. I have the patience to wait for you.



Rebekah & Susan, Ceilidh Place, Craignure, Isle of Mull

December 1, 2009

Dear Robert,

I don’t know if I’ll keep sending these post cards, but I feel the need to keep writing to you. Maybe the stars are in the same alignment they were in 17 years ago when we met. Whatever is going on, the pull toward you is as strong as went we met, that instant spark of kindred spirits connecting. We shared our stories with each other, but we already knew them, had always known them, as we’ve always known each other. I may never connect with you in this lifetime again, but we will meet again on another shore. We both know it.



 Shores of Iona

Dear Robert,

The last day of the year. I wonder how you will be celebrating Hogmanay? With family, friends, someone special? The new year is a blank slate. How will we write on it? I’m thinking of the last time I saw you. 1996. Isle of Mull Hotel lobby. We had made plans to spend the day on Iona on my day off. I was working reception and thought you had just stopped by to confirm that we had seats on the coach to take us across Mull to the Iona ferry. But your face was red and you were agitated, nearly to the point of hyperventilation. You cancelled our plans, said you couldn’t make it and practically ran out of the hotel. I’ve never seen anyone quite that frightened unless they were in mortal danger. You left me standing, lost, wondering. Two days later, Mary delivered your letter to me, just when I thought things couldn’t be worse. I was wrong.


Nunnery Ruins, Isle of Iona

January 15, 2010


Still writing. Still wondering why you were so afraid of me. You said in your letter that Mary delivered that I had misunderstood your feelings for me. No I didn’t. You said we were friends, nothing more. Not true. You said I expected too much from you.  I expected exactly what was right between us. And you knew it when you wrote that letter. I replied. Fast and mostly furious. How dare you? Who hurt you so badly that our connection scared you away from me? You judged me by her. Not fair. I should have known when you came to see me in my room in the staff block my second summer on Mull that you were scared when you brought your wee nephew along.

Still wondering,

From the train back to Glasgow. 1996

January 23, 2010

My Dear Robert,

I had Mary deliver my reply to your letter. Nothing for a week. Then she delivered a present from you, Buddhist meditation bells on red rope. They hung in my window back in the states for years. I finally packed them away. Never quite sure if they had been meant as a peace offering or a statement that I needed to meditate on letting you go. I heard you left Mull shortly after sending me the gift. I never saw you again. But I showed you. I married someone I loved but was not in love with.  


Isle of Mull Ferry. Taking me home.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Retreating to Iona

On Iona it is about 20 minutes past midnight. The evening session of Angela's writing retreat ends about 9:30. So, if I were there, I would be tucked in my cozy room reading or journaling or just happily remembering the day. From this side of the pond I wonder who is attending this year. There were so many amazing people there and I know I'm missing some of the wonderful writing they will be sharing. But I am there in spirit and this year that will have to be enough. Knowing that I will be there in 2012 helping organize a retreat with Beth Lodge-Rigal gets me through this nostalgic time of year.
This year Angela is celebrating her tenth retreat on Iona and I know she had some special things planned. I can't wait to hear about them. It never really gets dark in Scotland in the summer time so nighttime sojourns are quite easy and magical. Last year on our last night there, we went to the nunnery ruins and ready poetry by candlelight and shared a wee dram to warm us. It was magical.
And yes, Iona is a magical place and those who are attuned to that sort of thing have powerful experiences there. But Iona has lessons for us all. My lesson is awareness, awareness of my surroundings wherever I am. Appreciate them. Get the most out of them. Enjoy and learn from the past, but live in the moment. Some days I forget that and Iona taps me on the shoulder and says, "Look around you. Look at all the faces of the people you love, look at your beautiful little town of Bloomington, look at the words of others on the written page." Iona wants to remind me that she will always be there waiting to embrace me and welcome me to her warm shores and that is a comfort on this cool Indiana night.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I'm not prone to melancholy as a general rule. It does sneak up on me occasionally and it's always this time of year, the time of year (if I were going to Scotland) that I'd be preparing for that journey. And, for me, it is a journey, not a trip. A journey that "eases my soul" to quote one of my favorite poets and my spiritual guide, Van Morrison.

I love Bloomington and my life here. My son is here, I have an amazing group of friends and a wonderful writing community. Yet, I long to be in Scotland. It takes a lot of energy to want to be in two places at the same time. So this is the time of year that I become very melancholy and lethargic. The past few weeks I've been doing my uncanny imitation of oatmeal. I've been a lump on the couch that doesn't move. I haven't been doing much writing, which makes me even sadder. And I've learned that being sad takes a lot of energy, what with all the sighing and such.

A couple of Sundays ago I made myself get up off the couch and go to Border's and write. (Thanks Angi MacDonald for meeting me there.) I decided to address this situation head-on. The way for me to do that is to write and the best place to address this particular issue is my blog. I've ignored this blog way too long. It's time to get back on this horse and ride.

This time last year, I was preparing for that journey. Preparing for a writing retreat on Iona. I love the ritual of preparation. I love organizing, putting mix and match outfits together, choosing and packing well so that I can travel light.

Once I had my reservation confirmed for the retreat then I started the fun (for me) part of planning out my various modes of transportation once I landed in Glasgow. Planes, trains, buses and ferries. All carefully timed and coordinated.

The retreat was all and more than I had imagined it would be. I felt very welcomed and supported by these educated, amazingly talented writers. And Angela Locke, who facilitates the retreat, felt like a kindred spirit to me immediately. She's a wonderful teacher/guide. And so is David Clemson, her co-facilitator. What better combination than a mathematician/poet? I wrote a couple of magical realism stories that were well-received. I'm still carried by my time at the retreat.

Last week at my Women Writing for a Change class I wrote to the prompt: If you saw me walking... Of course, my walking takes place in Scotland. I'm still working on it and will post it on this blog when it's ready. So I'm writing again. I won't say the clouds are lifting, because I like clouds and stormy skies, which is probably why I like Scotland so much. But the heaviness of heart is lifting so that I have the energy to write again.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The photos below are views from Tigh na Mara Guest House.