Gone Walkabout

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Original artwork by author

Since December of 2018, my husband and I had a housemate living downstairs. My husband had several housemates before I moved in and we’ve had several after. We like helping others, and we have extra rooms, so why not?

This particular housemate was a friend of my husband’s, and all was great for many months. She was generally happy, creative, quirky, like a fairy embodied in a human being, who also liked death metal.

Last month, this housemate passed away. My husband found her in her room. We had exchanged pleasantries two days before, and we had heard signs of life one day before. Then … silence, so my husband checked on her. This disappearing thing wasn’t uncommon; sometimes she’d sink into a depression, or her body hurt, and often she would sleep in her room off and on for days, surfacing for a bit of food.

She had started being unstable around us during the holidays last year- maybe even before that. She was in her own world, and in her own struggle. We tried to help her in many ways. She was often sad, and it wouldn’t have been surprising if she wanted to leave this life.*

That said, our hearts ache for the positive aspects we came to know: her odd sense of humor, and her devil-may-care attitude, sporting her bright pink or glittery pants and colorful clothes as she went for a walk, literally dancing to her own tune. She often hummed to herself and jiggled her hips, an echo of former belly dancing days, as she stood by her sewing area. She nerded out on computer programming with my husband, talking in a language that I barely understand but respect. She vibrated life from her being in a unique way.

What I probably admire the most about her is that she strived to be the best person she could. She posted Buddhist sayings, helping her to remember that we are all in our own struggle, not to judge others, and to let go of expectations. She turned my husband on to Harville Hendrix, a relationship guru whose advice he and I now follow. And though we had our differences, she had wanted to make amends.

It pains my heart to think of the sadness she must have felt, and that no human could give her the healing or support she needed. In the end, I’m guessing the struggle was too much.* I also miss her, which has been hard for me to admit.

Sometime last week, I dreamed that she popped by from a walkabout to get a pair of jeans. My husband and I looked up from whatever we were working on and said casual hellos. Then she went on her way. Everything seemed as normal, like she was before her struggles had surfaced: happy, radiating sunshine, ponytail swinging. A day or two later, my husband had a dream about her, taking a casual walk in the neighborhood with her.

I like to think that’s what she’s doing: a walkabout, and that she’s on her next spiritual journey, encountering wisdom and adventures on the way.

*Update three months after this was written: we just found out from a family member that the coroner told her that our housemate died from a stroke. This is a relief in a way, that she hadn’t necessarily intended to pass on, but it is still sad.

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