| Where Recherche duTemps Perdu
---- meets Kirchliche Dogmatik
...and miles to go before I sleep.
But sleep I will. And I will wake up alongside "Buggy,"
and all the tears and regrets and loneliness will be gone.
Look! God's dwelling is with humanity,
For those blog readers who may be clueless as to what I'm writing about, my dear wife, June, passed away on October 1 of this year. It had turned out that her increasing weakness and incapacity was due to her breast cancer of 10 years ago. It had never returned to her breasts, thereby yielding clean breast biopsies, but had metastasized throughout her skeleton. You can go back to find my Facebook postings over the last year or so if you're interested in more details.
I have not yet sorted out all of my feelings sufficiently to write a helpful, let alone inspiring, account of my thoughts, doubts, and discoveries during that time. Suffice it to say that a part of it was hellish, and that I am incredibly grateful for everyone who was there for me and for June, as well as those people who would have been if it had been a possibility. -- And for the people who reassured me about the relevance of God's presence at that time.
Here is the little video about June's life I played at her memorial service and then posted on Facebook and YouTube.
Also, before I leave the topic, please let me once more express my gratitude to all those wonderful people who provided financial help so as to keep this personal tragedy from being compounded into a financial disaster. For example, the nursing home's rate for room and board (which Medicare paid for only partially) was around $7,000 a month, so you can be sure that every last penny I received went to June's care.
For the time being, at least, I figured that the only way I could get back into doing my blog was simply to start rather than first provide a detailed prolegomena of the last fourteen months. So, I'm going to jump right into the last couple of weeks and talk about my ten days in Alaska.
When June passed away, my older brother Wolf gave me a choice: Either he could come out to the memorial service, or he would be happy to spend the same amount of money for me to come out to see him and his clan in Sitka.
That wasn't much of a choice for me. Obviously, spending ten days in Sitka with him and his wife, as well as other relatives and relations-by-marriage, was highly preferable to having a short encounter along with a bunch of other visitors around the time of the service. So, I began my trip there on November 20 and started the return on December 1. If you're going to try to calculate the times, please take into account that Alaska time is four hours behind Eastern time.
A panorama view (i.e. actually a semi-circle) of Sitka with Mt. Edgecombe on the left.
Towards the right you see the steeple of St. Michael the Archangel Russian Orthodox Church.
Here's another shot, focusing on St. Michael's through a bit of forested area.
So, presumably you can tell that Sitka, located on Baranoff Island just off the southern end of the Alaskan panhandle, is a wonderful place aesthetically. In case you're wondering about the weather, it pretty much hung around the upper thirties and lower forties (above freezing) the entire time, and it doesn't get as cold there as it does here in Indiana.
The trip out was already beset by long layovers: four hours in Seattle, five hours or something like that in Anchorage. The flight from Anchorage to Sitka was supposed to include a quick stop in Juneau to drop off and pick up passengers, but that one took the longest time of all. Things seemed to be going smoothly on that last leg, though for some reason, the captain had to abort the first approach. A flight attendant let everyone know via the intercom that the captain would talk to us shortly, a little bit of an ominous-sounding announcement. After a few minutes he did come on the air and, in that casually reassuring tone that one gets accustomed to from the flight deck, apologized for the somewhat "botched approach." He casually mentioned that there had been a little problem with the landing flaps, and that we should be making another approach shortly. Once again we found ourselves above the clouds.
However, I noticed something weird. The landing flaps weren't out as far as they were supposed to be. Furthermore, while we were making a big circle around Juneau, the captain steadily kept up the nose of the plane at a unusually high angle. That's something you do in order to slow down the aircraft massively, as I had learned back when I used to spend time on my EASports flight simulator. A pilot with Air Alaska who happened to be seated in front of me confirmed that my suspicions were right. The flaps were stuck. He also mentioned that this was something highly unusual, which he had never encountered before in his decades of flying, except in the flight simulator. I was pleased to learn that he had made a safe landing on the simulator each time, and he seemed pretty sure that the present captain would most likely do the same, but somehow I didn't feel entirely reassured.
Nonetheless, we did get into Juneau safely. I think we came in just a little hot, but it was smooth, and--like I said--the runway was quite long. Obviously, we couldn't go on with that plane, and the lay-over in Juneau came to about 8 hours. There's not much to do in the gate area of Juneau airport, except to take some pictures of the gorgeous surroundings.
Finally, Air Alaska found another aircraft and flew all of us who were Sitka-bound to our destination. I made suret to listen to the landing flaps come out.
So, I got into Sitka in the evening rather than in the morning. Of course, at this time of year, there's not much daylight in between. The sun rose around 9 am and set around 4 pm.
I added up all of the actual time I had spent on the trip, beginning with leaving my house Monday afternoon to drive to the airport and walking into Wolf and Yvonne's house on Tuesday evening, and it came to 32 hours.
We'll pick up here with the next entry.