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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

There is No Separation

I expected grief to be sadness, to be heart-wrenching, to hurt
I’m not sure that I expected it to be so exhausting.
But it is.

Very much so.

In the past year I have become consumed with considering goals, tasks, opportunities and challenges in the terms of the energy they will consume and the energy they might return.

Some things are easy. When I am sad I don’t feel much like eating or sleeping. But it’s simple to tell myself I have to eat, have to sleep, because otherwise I will run out of energy.

Some things are harder to see. Does dating again, or forcing myself into social situations with new friends, single girlfriends and old friends give or take more energy?

Does cleaning the house at the end of a long work day give more energy ultimately than it takes? Does reading those extra stories at night to spend a few more minutes with my children give more sustainable energy that outweighs my exhaustion and inclination to rush bedtime?

Sometimes the answers are impossible. Sometimes they are simple.  Always, they are considered by my assessment, “Is this giving me energy, or taking energy?”

It’s funny how such intangible things--time, energy, sadness, happiness, hope--become the staples of your daily contemplations when you are a widowed woman walking. But they do.

I wondered for so long about the kind of energy I wanted May 29th to have--the kind of energy that I would give that particular date. How could I carry the one-year-mark of Trevor’s death in a way that gave energy instead of took energy?

How could I find hope and happiness in the horror that we have somehow made it through the first year without him, and that now there are only more years lined up like soldiers behind it?

I knew that focusing on something that Trevor loved would give more energy than the energy that I could pour into feeling very sad on that day.

What I didn’t entirely anticipate was how much it would mean to me, how much it would lift my little family, to see so many of you take the time and energy to honor Trevor’s memory as well.

One of my very favorite poets,  Maya Angelou, articulated the following bit of wisdom:

I want everyone who hiked in Trevor’s honor this past May 29th to know that I truly believe that taking the time to get outside and connect with this beautiful planet gives you energy, that if you did exactly that as a way to serve my little family and honor my angel husband, you truly gave us a gift of energy, love and hope.

Your social media posts and texts with pictures of beautiful vistas and words of remembering Trevor turned what could be a very hard day, into a very beautiful day.

I can never thank all of you enough. I wanted to capture all of those posts and messages in once place for a record for myself and our children and for everyone else who misses my main guy. This blog is that place, and I’ve listed all the hiking images that I know about below. If you take a moment to scroll through them I hope you will feel the energy of love, honor and hope in each post--in each hike.

There’s a lovely saying I came across on grief and nature:

“If we look at the path, we do not see the sky. We are earth people on a spiritual journey to the stars. Our quest, our earth walk, is to look within, to know who we are, to see that we are connected to all things, that there is no separation, only in the mind.”  

This past Sunday the separation between Trevor and his family felt smaller, the separation between friendships felt nonexistent. There were so many of us doing something with such a similar purpose--that kind of energy is truly remarkable--the kind of energy that means so much me as it is spent honoring a great man, the kind of energy that continues to sustain those of us he left behind.

Thank you so much for such a beautiful gift.

My kids and me hiking for their Daddy - Ivie is rocking a shirt with Dad's "Never Give Up" slogan, I'm wearing a pair of his hiking shorts and Liam is wearing a t-shirt Trevor wore when he was Liam's age.

We had a great group gather to hike Cress Creek - from family to friends, this show of love and support means so much to me. 

After hiking I took the kids down to visit their dad's grave. Ivie had requested orange flowers (because she knows it was Trevor's favorite color) to put on Trevor's grave. Liam wanted white and blue. 
Sweet Ivie also collected lots of pinecones to leave at her dad's grave. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Mountains Are Calling and I Must Go

The morning that Trevor died will forever be one of the most sacred experiences I cannot explain.

My hand on his chest, I felt his heart stop beating, felt his body take its last breath.

Almost instantaneously, I felt enveloped in sadness, a sadness that was bigger than my own.

I know he was sad too. I know he didn't want to leave. 

In the next instant that sadness was a feeling of love, so deep and so tangible, that had I turned around I would have sworn Trevor was standing behind me with his arms around me.

I know he loves me, deeply, eternally, completely.  I know I love him. 

And in the next instant, it was as if he was whispering to me, "I have to go." The impression was not the way we think about talking with one another, not like a secret shared in my ear, but the sort of communication that happens between souls. It isn't verbal. It isn't even something I can possibly find the right words to describe. 

I know he wanted to stay. I know he could see more than I could. I know he had to go. 

My dear friend Katie, helped to write Trevor's obituary because I didn't know where to start. And it bothered me so much, a woman who has essentially written for a living for her entire adult life could not find her way into writing the obituary of the man she loved most, the man who loved her writing. I was agitated at my inability to capture the essence of his life, and with the deadline for submission to newspapers pending, she sent me away from the table while she began the foundational draft for what would be the most beautiful obituary I truly have ever read. 

When I came back Katie had written the most perfect line:

Trevor was many things to many people.....and now Trevor is a spirit exploring a new and wonderful wilderness. 

Trevor loved the wilderness. He loved the mountains. 

For his funeral, Trevor's mother wrote, and his family performed a song centered around one of Trevor's favorite quotations from John Muir, "The mountains are calling, I must go."

I have only heard Trevor's family sing the song maybe half a dozen times, and I sang it with them at his grandmother's funeral. But the words are trapped in my mind and float through my brain so often---especially lately. 

May 29th somehow impossibly marks one year since that morning that I felt his heart stop beating. 

The impossible year has passed. 

Sometimes there is peace in this milestone, sometimes there is more horror in it. Most of the time I try to find the mountains in it. 

Trevor wanted to stay. He couldn't. Other mountains I cannot see yet were calling, and he had to go. 

There are mountains calling me too.

Mountains of challenges in raising our children, in honoring his memory, in finding joy and happiness and embracing this life with a hole the exact shape of Trevor inside of my heart. 

I've struggled to know how to mark this first anniversary of his death. 

I've worried about making the day too centered around his loss, how that impacts the kids who can't yet connect the significance of this date to our family. 

And then one day, it all made sense. 

The mountains are calling, and I must go. 

We will spend May 29th each year hiking. Doing something Trevor loved to do, something that our family loved to do. 

And if you want to, wherever you are I hope you'll join us. Find a trail calling you somewhere are go. 

And as you go, if you knew my angel husband, think of him smiling or laughing, or teasing or arguing or teaching, or just being. 

If you didn't know him, think of someone you love, feel everything just a little more deeply. 

I hope the mountains call you. If they do, snap a picture and send it to me or post it on my facebook timeline--that much collective energy doing something that my Trevor loved to do would mean the world to me. 

If you are in Idaho, we will be hiking the Cress Creek trail at 10:00 am Sunday morning, May 29th, with Trevor in our hearts. You are welcome to join us.