Saying goodbye

 

June 24th 2012

Saying goodbye
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.

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Learning on the road

 

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Riding a burro in mexico

Education on the road has been such an interesting experience. I sometimes find myself doubting or worrying if we are doing enough “school” with Jesse, is he behind, should we be doing a curriculum, etc. often times these doubts arise when I am comparing or when people ask about it.

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Junior rangers

but when it boils down to it, this kid, both kids, are learning like crazy, everyday and without sitting down to a Work book. I tried that route and it really didn’t work well for Jesse, he is stubborn and so am I and many a battle was fought over school work!

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Reading

I never cease to be amazed by the things he learns and picks up on from all different sources. And that only works to prove the theory that I often doubt, that kids naturally learn and want to learn if given the tools and resources.   As an example,  Jesse was playing a game and then decided that he wants to learn how to multiply because that would help him with this game. So, he and Mick whip up a multiplication chart and the kid is learning multiplication, by his own choice!

And at Joshua tree, we were out on a little hike, just kind of hanging out and Jesse starts talking about this story he wants to write and he’s all excited to get back and start writing. And we get back to the bus and that’s what he does, he sits and writes for the next hour!

 

So what does education on the road look like for us?

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A sewing lesson

 

Well, first, Jesse is an avid reader, in fact he is laying in bed right now reading a survival manual, by his own choice. He loves to read! And I think that skill right there opens up so many avenues of learning.

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Learning history

When we are at national parks we do ranger talks, ranging from, the solar system, to wilderness, to global warming to mountain lions, to edible native plants. He does the Jr ranger program, which not only is it good writing practice, but it also makes him more aware of nature and he is learning about science!  I will also have him write letters or a book summary from time to time.

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Learning new skills

And  When we have down time, we Paint or read, or work on projects.

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But I feel like the best classroom for all of us is the outdoors.  The boys are learning how to be in nature, to respect it and not to fear it. How to be safe in it and to love the outdoors. They are physical all the time, they play and get dirty, pretend, explore, and climb rocks ! I love it!  There are times where we can be hiking and Sage is naming the plants we pass and Jesse is throwing out facts he learned about an animal.

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Learning about endangered animals at the safari park

Even for Mick and I, all this intimate time in nature has helped us with our own paths of learning. Mick is learning all he can about hunting right now and what better place to combine his book learning with his hands on then outside hiking and trying to spot and learn about wildlife. And for me, I am taking an herbal course, and I can’t even express how exciting it is to be learning about a medicinal herb to then discover it growing all around you!

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Learning about wind energy in PEI

To some this may look way to random and that’s fine, it’s not for everyone.   I am not going to claim that this is the best or the right way to educate. but I am going to say that I LOVE that the learning is organic and flows and that any time can be learning time.

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Jesse learning how to work compost into a garden
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Both boys love books

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Adventure

“The word adventure has gotten overused. For me, when everything goes wrong, that’s when adventure starts.” -Yvon Chouinard 

We left camp this morning for town to do some much needed laundry and to buy  mouse traps…We now have mice traveling around with us on the bus.

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Well, as we started out about halfway to town the check engine light came on and the car died.  Just died.  So, instead of going on with our day as planned we wait in the car for an hour until an tow truck could come and get us.

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There wasn’t room for all of us, so the boys and I were taken back to camp first and then the tow truck came for Mick and the car.

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While it was stressful for Mick and I, Jesse thought it was an adventure. An adventure riding in a tow truck and climbing into the bus window to unlock it.

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And when a day like today ends like this…i realize that we are pretty blessed despite the hard stuff.   Blessed to be on this trip, in these beautiful places, blessed to have two wild and sweet boys, blessed to be right here together taking in this sunset.

 

 

Joshua Tree National Park

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It has been over a week since my last post and I am feeling so much better.  I acknowledged how I was struggling to Mick, forced myself to exercise even when I just really wanted to take a nap.  The sun came out and I started to crawl out of it so I could enjoy my time with the boys and fully see Joshua tree for what it is, amazing!

 

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Scrambling on rocks at Jumbo Rocks

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Another blooming cactus 

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A little desert art

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A little oasis at Joshua tree
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A Chuckwala, one of many we saw
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Ocotillo in bloom
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Lost Desert Palms Oasis 
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Amazing sunset
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Both boys becoming Jr Rangers

A great place!  Next time We hope to do a little climbing but it was pretty great just scrambling around with the boys on boulders, doing some great hike and spotting some wildlife.

 

Struggling to see light

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I am going to be honest and maybe more vulnerable then Is comfortable… I struggle with depression and anxiety.
The last week and a half have been a bit of a dark cloud for me.

We did loose our cat and spent some time in places that were less then great and the weather has been grey and rainy… All factors I’m sure.
But sometimes even when we are in an amazing place like Joshua tree, I’m still struggling to see light. Everything starts to feel so hard, I start having physical ailments, I’m here…but I’m not.

My spirit starts to feel like it’s detached from my body and Sinking.

It’s a hard place to be.

I know some of the things that can help, personal time, sunshine, exercise, eating well, being in nature, being creative, and connected.

But sometimes I start to sink and it’s hard to do the things that I know I should do. And the cloud sets up camp and I slowly close off from the people I love…
I don’t leave physically, no I’m still here in body but my spirit starts to shut down.

I feel slow, and yet I’m quick to get overwhelmed and frustrated. My thoughts are negative and I feel bad about myself, self doubting, and feel it’s hard to see joy in life. Even if, from the outside, my life may look amazing…
sometimes, in the midst of depression, it’s hard to see the good. It’s a lonely place…because I feel ashamed and like No one else would understand.
But I’m tired of letting it be something to be ashamed of, like it’s a weakness in my character, because it’s not. Depression is not me, it’s a sickness. And I’m sharing this because Even though I feel alone in it sometimes, I know I am not the only one who struggles with this.  Not even close.

So I want to shine light on it, not to glorify it by any means but to learn to acknowledge what it is and maybe even learn to support and be supported by others.  Because sometimes when we say we are fine, we aren’t… but we don’t know how to explain it or we feel to embarrassed to show othere this side of us…because they may think it is who we are.  But it’s not.

 

Loosing Bella

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Last night we lost our sweet cat Bella to coyotes. We woke in the night to a terrible sound and after looking for a while in the dark, Mick found her. The Coyotes were gone but it was too late, she was dead.

In my tears looking down at her I started regretting things, bringing her on this trip, letting her stay out that night, not protecting her better.

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But in reality, she loved being on this trip with us. And she loved being outside hunting and that’s what she was doing, doing what she loved.

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I started thinking about that evening, how I watched her follow Jesse as he ran to look at something and then later as she went on a walk with Mick… She would do that, follow us on hikes and walks. So many people would ask us, how does she just stay around like that and we would simply say, we got really lucky with this Cat. She was the best….

We waited to tell Jesse until after breakfast as we knew we needed to have an advantage on the day. Poor Jesse just cried and cried. He didn’t want to see her or see her be buried and I think that was ok.
But we did say some words about her and to her and Jesse made her a little cross for her grave. Sage has no conception of death but even in our discreetness, picked up on enough to know we were saying goodbye.

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It’s been a hard day, the weather is grey and our emotions are kind of grey too. she was so much a part of our family and of this trip…there is an emptiness. She will be missed greatly.
I feel truly blessed to have had two really wonderful Pets, my dog Pippin who is chasing squirrels in heaven and Beautiful Bella who has now joined him there.

Southern Arizona

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Oh how I love the desert!  I feel at home in the desert, I love the harsh beauty, The sunsets and sunrises, the wide open skies, the desert blooms, the animals…and I could really go on and on!

We spent the last few weeks in southern Arizona, From Chiricahua national monument, to Cochise’s stronghold to Organ pipe National Monument  All of these places uniquely different from each other and we found them to be hidden gems.

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At Chiricahua we stayed in the national Forrest and even had a nice stream for the boys to play in.

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At Cochise’s stronghold we met up with my parents for the week.  We had a great time scrambling on the rhyolite rocks, and exploring the cliffs and canyons there.

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We even took in some of the local history at the town Too tuff to die, Tombstone.  We watched a reenactment of the shootout at the OK corral with Dr holiday and the Erp brothers And learned more about Geronimo, and the Apache chief Cochise.

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Organ Pipe National monument only 7 miles for the AZ-Mexico border was one of the greenest and most plant diverse deserts I’ve seen.    From saguaro, to Organ Pipe cactus, occatillo, chollo, Palo Verde, Creosote… And almost all these plants were in bloom!  We had a great time, hiking, going to night talks,  and just loving the desert!

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