June 24th 2012
June 24th 2005, I married my best friend. It was the first day in my life I felt utter joy and total peace. All the people we loved were there and as I walked down the aisle to Jesse, he was beaming and I felt so much love. It was one of the greatest days of my life.
Today, June 24 2012, on what marks our seventh wedding anniversary, I decided to a hike a mountain Jesse and I had hiked to many times together but one I personally never summited. Today my goal was to climb to the top and scatter some of his ashes.
As I was making the hike up, so many memories came flooding in of Jesse and I and of all our trips into the backcountry together. So many of my favorite times were spent with Jesse, out in the wilderness, the place that he seemed to be in his element. He was so comfortable and natural in the backcountry, not in an arrogant way but in a way that made you feel at ease.
One trip in particular came to mind of a backpacking trip we did up above lemon. We spent the day hiking up to a gorgeous high mountain meadow, pippin in heaven chasing marmots and running free. When it was time to start looking for a place to camp for the night, we came across this pristine lake tucked into a small valley down below us. We decided that was our spot and made our way down the steep bank. When we got to the bottom the sun was starting to set and as we were setting up camp we looked up to see this massive heard of elk running straight up the steep bank, the same one we had just taken effort to climb down! We stood there in awe as these strong animals ran up this bank with such grace and ease. After a few minutes we continued setting up and making dinner when one of us glanced up and spotted a bear near the lake, not far from where we were camped. It was a beautiful moment, the sun setting, the silence and the raw beauty of the place. We ate our dinner, glancing up every so often to check on the bear and went to bed tired, contented and so at peace. That was one of my fondest memories.
As I hiked I wondered how I could have let one of my loves go by the wayside. Fear? Respect to Jesse’s memory? I realized that I had been protecting this part of me, this place that had felt so apart of Jesse and my life with him. If I shared this with another person, another love, wouldn’t I be dishonoring Jesse? As I sat with these thoughts, I felt Jesse saying to me “Let go, move forward. Create new memories. Be free. Be Sara.”
As I approached the base of the mountain the loose rocky summit loomed above me. It looked intense, I wondered if this was far enough. Then something like courage sunk in and I made my way, scrambling up the loose rock. I got to a point where I was too scared to go farther and deemed the spot good, after-all I had promised laurie I would be careful. I found a place to sit and just stared out at the view and wondered how to go about doing this. Should I say something? If so should I say it before or after?
My thoughts drifted to little Jess and Mick, Mick watching Jesse so that I could do this. So supportive and encouraging, and the sheer magnitude of that hit me. My New Love encouraging me and helping me do this, allowing me to grieve, being patient with me as I go through so many emotions and as I remember and honor my past love. This is true love, not just gushy, butterflies in your stomach, fleeting love, but true, unconditional love.
My mind drifted back to the task at hand, what I came to this place to do. I reached into my backpack and pulled out the little black box, thoughtfully tied up with a yellow ribbon by Jesse’s folks. As I held it I thought of the pain that must have been stirred in them by doing this for me. I thought of Laurie, with tears in her eyes the night before as she handed this box to me and told me I was brave. I opened the box and dumped out half the ashes onto the rocks and then I put the box back and just sat there staring at the last physical remains of my husband. And I thought when will I feel different? When will the closure set in? As my thoughts are going I feel Jesse saying, “ let go. don’t carry this back down. Let me go here. Carry me in your heart but let me physically go. Say goodbye to what we had and live”
So, I opened the box back up and I stood on the edge and I scattered them into the breeze and then I said goodbye. Not a goodbye to memories or to his spirit in my life but I said goodbye to our plans, to our future and to our life together. I realized as I stood there that I have to live my life, take chances, let my heart open, let my passion flow and fully love again. I realized that I can always find Jesse out here, not because of his ashes but because his spirit is here and his spirit will live on.
I didn’t walk down the mountain thinking things would change overnight or that I was miraculously healed but I did realize that saying goodbye to my life with jesse and having some closure was one more step forward in my grieving process. As I walked down I did feel lighter, more alive, and free. I found a part of me that had died with Jesse and now needed to be restored and revived. The part of me that needs to be in fellowship with nature and with the creator of it all.
I owe my knowledge and experience in the backcountry to Jesse. That was one of the many gifts He left me. And as I sat today, in a field of wild flowers, at the base of a magnificent mountain, I realized it is my job to pass this all on to our son. It is my job, my honor, to teach him to respect nature, to be aware of its dangers but not to fear it, to love it and to see the creator in it. Someday I will take little Jesse here and maybe we will camp. And I will share memories of his dad and his love for the outdoors and then we will create our own precious memories.