As full circle would have it, yesterday found this girl hiking the mountains of Colorado on the very day, five years ago, that my husband died hiking the woods of Colorado. There’s a message in there somewhere but I’ll be damned if I know what it is.
No, we aren’t in those woods. I don’t know my heart can venture to the trail where The Norwegian breathed his last. We find ourselves, instead, surrounded by family in Telluride, a place my dear one loved to
celebrate our country’s birth. Indeed the last time I was here it was with him.
As I trudge the incline toward Bear Creek Falls, my huff and puff tell me to proceed with care. The docs said the same earlier in the week. Of course, I don’t make it nearly as far as my children, their cousins and my brother. They do tell me they had a toast to The Norwegian at the Falls. The day people commemorate a loved ones death is laughter mixed with tears and a healthy dose of wishing for time to reverse itself.
I smile part way up the hill remembering the days after The Norwegian, following behind me on the trail, waved and smiled as I turned to look at him. And then he fell. In the seconds it took to cover the ground between us he was not breathing. Our closest friends, with us that day, spent hours pumping air into his lungs willing him to breath before search and rescue confirmed what we already knew but were afraid to say out loud.
I laugh because in the days that followed, those who knew us well said, “What were the two of you doing in the woods?”
Truer words. It was much more likely to find us lying on the beach reading or ordering room service. His idea of exertion was climbing into the hot air balloon, certainly not manning it. His preferences fell more toward fine wine, books and a comfy chair.
So when we spend the evening spread across a table for ten, sipping Chianti and indulging in Telluride’s finest Italian fare, I can’t help but think how happy he would be. Wine and family were his favorite. I carry myself to the rest room more than once cursing the fates that left me here alone with two of my children, fretting over how the third is faring through the day.
The meal over, my sister-in-law breaks down and I know that whatever I’ve lost I’m not alone. Our poor waiter gives us the look men do when women cry in public. Then we laugh and confusion washes over his face. Do I smile? Do I remain stoic? What the hell, women?
We make our way to the gondola and our rental. A rainbow etches the sky above us. Perhaps that’s the message. The rainbow only comes after the rain. Or some other shit we say to make ourselves feel better.
The truth is the day is more like a pap smear. You’re glad it’s over and that it comes but once a year.