Monday, October 15, 2012


As if I needed further lessons in impermanence, today I visited the picnic area I have reserved for Flip's celebration of life memorial and found several very old, huge trees had been cut down, as well as all the foliage that provided a natural barrier at the edge of the slope leading to San Francisco Bay. It looks like a deforestation project. The incomparable beauty of the site has been destroyed, and I can't imagine why anyone would do that as the tree stumps do not look diseased, and they helped to hold the hill in place. Surely erosion will soon follow. If I had known, I would have selected another spot for the gathering.

Since I resist believing in a random universe, it is necessary to examine events which seem significant in order to discover their meaning. Obviously the loss of Flip is far greater than the loss of some trees, however magnificent they were. But that was never lost on me. And yes, I do realize that everything that happens is not about me. But when they happen so close to home, both geographically and emotionally, I have to take notice.

The Rolling Stones' song, "You Can't Always Get What You Want" comes to mind here, as it has so often the last few years. But we already knew that. We needn't belabor it, certainly. I could get mystical and imagine that Flip is expressing his displeasure at being commemorated there, but I'm sure he is far more displeased to be dead. And he liked that spot as much as I did. Plus, he would never cut down a majestic tree or mess with a gorgeous view. So it's mystifying that this lovely spot has been desecrated the very week I need it for an event which means a lot to me.

Maybe that's the key. The event is not important compared to what it concerns. That is not lost on me either. Apparently I am to understand that I cannot control anything, really. Not life nor death, and must view the world and everything in it as if it might be gone tomorrow and I will never see it again. Now that is something that with practice, I might be able to manage.


English Rider said...

I hope that the strength of support that you will experience will supercede the disappearance of the trees.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Thank you! I'm sure it will. The photo was taken while others were using the site, before the trees went missing. I discovered that if you click on it, it will show the whole scene.

NoRegrets said...

May it be what you need...

Cro Magnon said...

I hope the loss of the trees is not overshadowing your love for the spot. After the memorial gathering it will become even more special; trees or not. It looks beautiful.

My idiot neighbour recently tore out a young and highly productive apple tree from his garden... I was furious for weeks; I still am.

Molly said...

It would have been nice if the trees could have stayed just until you had Flip's memorial. They, unfortunately, were probably not consulted either! Maybe, since it's a place you and he both loved, you can close your eyes and imagine it as it was last time you were there together.....

Secret Agent Woman said...

Oh, that kind of thing really upsets me, too. Around here there is a dreadful practice of "topping" trees - they are left like sad amputees.

I'm so sorry that you were confronted with that at Flip's service. But impressed that you searched for a way to take a lesson in impermanence and appreciation for the now. There truly is virtually nothing we can control except our own way of looking at the world.

Still holding you in my heart as you grieve.

Paula said...

I'm sorry that your beloved spot was changed at the worst time. As far as I'm concerned, you would be justified in thinking everything is about you, for a while. That would be so understandable.

Sextant said...

Alas the desecration of your spot is most likely some parks and recreation dept bureaucrat's chain saw solution to complaints that the trees were blocking some important activity. Trees have no rights and nor do those who have fallen in love with a location. Somebody needs something, a better view, a tennis court, or some other important facet of life and these trees were in the way.

We are foolish to fall in love with locations. A lovely grove of trees in which I asked my wife to marry me was recently bull dozed down for some park land management BS. My lovely woods have been felled for Mc Mansions. The fact that I communed with God in that place has no bearing on anything. We make locations Sacred at our peril.

In spite of the destruction of your spot, I hope your service goes well. Perhaps the razing of your spot is a metaphor of the razing of your heart. Indeed we are foolish to fall in love with a location, and we are foolish to fall in love with people. Life cruelly can take both from us. But how drab would our safe lives be without these loves? In knowing and loving your spot and in knowing and loving Flip, your Soul has been given gifts far more valuable than gold. May your memories sustain you in these dark and unhappy days.

RJS said...

I despise the senseless destruction of beauty. Your poignant post was well-expressed. It's wonderful to read your wise words again.

I wish that I could be a Buddhist, and better cope with change. Unfortunately, being Jewish sucks sometimes.

Jo said...

Oh, Susan, I just can't imagine what added sorrow that must have been for you. I would want to find out who did it and why. What was the stupid reason for doing something like that? It's such a beautiful spot. Some bureaucrat made a stupid decision. How awful.

I think Flip's memorial will still be beautiful. Be sure to look for the special bird.

Anonymous said...

Dear Susan, I only just learned of Flip's passing as I was off the grid for almost a month. I am so sorry for your loss and that I was not able to offer my condolences earlier. I hope that Flip's memorial will bring you joy and peace in celebrating him and what you shared together in the company of others whose lives were touched by him.

nick said...

What a shame the trees were cut down and the view spoiled. That happens round here too, the pointless removal of beautiful old trees. I suspect Flip would have had some pithy comments about the aesthetic vandalism.

mischief said...

Susan, I hope that it's all about finding a new kind of beauty in your life in the face of painful loss. I know you are the kind of person who can do that, even while missing your Love and missing those trees. I hope the memorial is comforting and that the sun shines. Love.

Kim said...

I was really sad to read of Flip's passing when I checked in on my favorite blogs today :( Over the last few years of reading your blog I came to enjoy your stories and enjoyed the relationship you two shared. I know he would proud of you for all you have managed to get through on this difficult journey since he became ill. I hope you can find some peace in the park even with the trees missing, how sad that they seem disposable now days. I am thinking of you ... I hope everything goes well and you find comfort with your friends and family xoxox

Jackie Gaston said...

Is this spot part of the Hardly Strictly event? I hope they weren't cut down to make room for some of that. The founder would not be pleased, either. I hate to see trees cut down. Maybe they were diseased in some way that didn't show up in the stumps.

CiCi said...

You are still the thinking woman, heart in pain but you walk yourself through the lessons to be learned. The place you chose was a special place for both you and Flip, and it now has changed and Flip is not there physically any longer.

Maria said...

That's it in a nutshell, yes? So much of what has happened to you in the last few years has been out of your control. I've always admired those who bend to their loss of control, but I've never been one of them. I aspire to it, though. I think you are getting some really tough lessons lately and that stinks. usual, you are graceful about it all.

Lee said...

This is my first visit to your blog, heartinsanfrancisco...and it was with sadness I read your posts. Please accept my sincere condolences.

Loss of a loved one tears one's heart and soul apart. And words never do seem enough. Cherished memories should always be treasured and smiled upon.

Grief has no limits...and nor should it. We manage, in time, to compartmentalise our grief...but grief felt is personal...and the care of it belongs to the one who feels it.

jean said...

Sending you loving thoughts for a gentle journey through this time in your life. Peace...

Jocelyn said...

That you write about Flip without cloying sentimentality makes me feel all the more your pain and grief. You are conveying the depth of your loss in a way that makes me want to be you, if it ever comes to it.

So see, it IS all about you. As it should be.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Thank you.

Cro Magnon,

Now I am furious with your idiot neighbor, too. Please tell him or her.


It looked quite bare, but so is my heart. I guess it was fitting.


I remember tree topping from my years in the south. They even destroyed several beautiful Redbud trees we had because they offended some official or other.


I like your view on this very much. Yes, let's make everything about me for a while, shall we?


Many thanks for your most wise words. It's true that love hurts, but it also brings more joy than anything else in this world. Babies and bathwater.


Being Jewish is supposed to suck, didn't you know that? We are chosen, remember. (I don't think it's ever clearly stated for what, though.)


If a special bird was there, I didn't see or hear it. Hopefully it will give me another chance when I can be more fully aware.


Thank you. It was lovely. But nothing can bring him back. I have to stop believing in magic.


Flip had a highly developed artistic sensibility but also a far more philosophical mindset than mine. Right now, everything is feeding into my sorrow.


The sun did shine, and it was good. Many loved people were there including several beautiful children, which always helps everything.


I am grateful for your lovely words. Thank you.


I think they were cut down to widen the view of the Tall Ships from the hill. Needless to say, I am at odds with that position because the ships come and go but with any luck, beautiful old trees are forever.


It was a particularly hard lesson to have to learn.


I guess if I am honest, this hurts so much because I was so greatly blessed before. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


Thank you so much for visiting my blog. It sounds as if you have experienced similar pain and come through it with great wisdom. I appreciate your sharing it here.


Loving thoughts are what sustain us all. Thank you.


I think that sentimentality is often a substitute for real sentiment, although many can't tell the difference. Of course, you can. Of course. Thank you.