Washington, Whidbey Island

A Sanctuary While Grieving Far From Home

Whidbey Institute Labryinth

I MOVED TO SEATTLE from Berkeley four months before my dad died from cancer. I would have stayed. I was unattached to place, work, or romance. I very well could have stayed. I knew he was dying. But he, being the fighter until the end that he always was, couldn’t accept my offer. He couldn’t accept the idea of me sleeping in the guest bedroom to hear him better at night. Nor could he accept me doing what needed to be done in the new quiet way that was so unlike me. It would have made it real, and he wasn’t there yet. He never did make it there.

Carolyn, a grandmother to me from my native Berkeley, sought to connect me with her friends up north when I moved last summer. One of her close ties, Ron, and his wife, Laura, invited me to housesit on Whidbey Island for the last week of September. Before my week-long stay, they hosted me for a weekend to get to know the house, their dogs’ quirks, and the town of Langley. It’s a cliff-hugging hamlet with place names like “Useless Bay” and “Eagles Nest Inn,” home to farmers markets and a healthy grocery and old houses that line the main drag along the cliff edge of South Whidbey Harbor.

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