one foot up in heaven

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this time last weekend we were on a ferry home from the mainland.

we’d risen early on saturday, packed the car with breakfast & overnight supplies and picked Nic’s mother up from the mainland. we drove for 4 hours down to turangi, stopping in at our accommodation for pre-made sandwiches and to drop things off that we didn’t need for our afternoon ceremony.

then, we headed to the ketetahi side of the tongariro crossing and made the ascent to a spot at the top of the tree line. we’re walking in the opposite direction of the walking traffic as we’re here for a very special reason. this is a track that the wise family walked many many times before i came on the scene and that i walked once with Nic and his mother a few years ago. both on the way up and on the way down we see korimako – the nz bellbird – this feels auspicious somehow.

Nic’s mum tells stories on the way up. one of them about how Nic always wanted to walk the part of it we’re walking now – even though he was only 4 or so years old. his little legs moving quickly to try and keep up with his parents… asked, even then, to carry something – a bag of apples is the story his mum tells. his dad carried him some of the way and told Nic he had to return the favour when he was 80. Nic never did that, choosing instead to gift his father with a helicopter ride around auckland for his 80th. up here it feels like we’ve got one foot in heaven, even as the other is holding firm to the earth. we scatter his ashes in two places on this track and it feels like the perfect final resting spot for his dad – a place very special in this family’s heart.

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John was a quiet man of simple pleasures that had some very interesting things to say when he did speak. i remember the first time my in-laws came to visit our home on waiheke. he’d not been here long and he said something to me that i’ve never forgotten: “this place was waiting for you” he said. i never told him this place had been singing to me in my sleep, like a siren, after the first time i stepped on the property. but somehow, he knew this was our place. his son, my husband, also a man of few words at times has inherited his quiet wisdom; this is a legacy i have the honour of accompanying through as many days as Nic is on the planet and chooses to share it with me.

rest in peace, John. you were a quiet man with a big heart and you were very very loved.

3 thoughts on “one foot up in heaven

  • I read this through tears and then I re-read it three more times. Through my blurry, watery view, your words—your moving tribute to John—struck so many beautiful chords.

    Thank you for so gloriously sharing your heart, my sweet, magnificent poetess.

    Hugs and love to you and Nic.

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