Two times women my age have come into my shop during busy times when there is a small barrage of customers who are milling around, customers who are looking at flies and stream-side gear and customers who are wondering why in the world does this fly shop have sculptures and art work and painted skulls? Both times, these older women have sought me out, come to face me directly, and requested with rather direct emphasis that they wanted to book a fly fishing trip. It was sometime later that it dawned on me that when women do this, that often means someone has passed in their life.
These women are newly widowed. Along their new path within the turmoil of emotion is a tide of belongings and paperwork and grief all tumbling together in a maelstrom of surreal demands being made on a person -demands of decisions when their spouse dies. And in the middle of this chaos are the belongings of a man now gone and the blank slate of a new life waiting for a widow's feet to take a new baby step.
My heart breaks and tears well up. In the closets and garages and chest of drawers and basements these women review the belongings of a person who is gone now and these particular women came across these things: a fly rod and all the fly fishing stuff that belonged to their man. And for these women, it is a clear vision -- perhaps one of the only clear things in this mire of emotional debris - they want to honor the memory of this loved man by taking up his fly fishing gear and going out to enjoy something he enjoyed: fly fishing with contentment and peace along a river.
I am honored to be with these women. I am honored to use their rods and fly lines and flies. We go to where I know their husband would probably never think this woman would ever be standing and we fish under the wide open sky and laugh and talk about life this day, this first day of fly fishing. Sometimes we cry as well and it feels like life to me, this hugging and crying. I feel their life's sparkle flowing into my heart and I am grateful they came into my world.