As we wrapped up our time in the west, I headed out for a sunset hike. The weather has turned cloudy and windy, and I knew the lighting would be spectacular. The sky and rocks competed for my attention, changing moment by moment as the sun and clouds rearranged themselves. The sound of the coyotes howling in the distance was both beautiful and a bit worrisome to this suburbanite, and my pace quickened, scrambling quickly up and down the rocks.
As with most of the hikes I’ve taken on this trip, I spent a far amount of the time crying. Every time I become aware of my facility with my body, my gratitude wells up and spills out. I am genuinely disbelieving of my own ability, after two years of life-changing limited mobility. My heart literally sings.
The gratitude swells and I am tempted to think backward and wallow, to remember more painful times. Every time, my father’s voice interferes.
“You don’t worry about where you’ve been. You focus on where you’re going!” Stern. And loving.
,…and then I really start to cry. Because my dad said this to me countless times in the past two years. I’d voice my fear and pain and cry and every time he said the same thing. And every time I snapped out of my wallow. Because this recovery has taken determination and a focus that I don’t believe I’ve ever had to draw upon before. It is hard stuff, and my dad served as a cornerstone in this undertaking of healing with both his words and actions. For the first time in my life, I felt him as the fiercely protective father that I always felt was inside him but had not experienced. Often what I had felt was his absence. Now I felt his warmth.
The improvement, as well as this trip, I largely credit him with. Only it’s too late to tell him. Five months too late.
And so I cry. I cry because alongside my siblings, he is the person I most want to call and tell about this triumph that feels so over-whelming that I can’t even put it to words. I have taken about 100 photos of trails and rocks that I’ve been on, and I look through them, disbelieving. I cannot quite believe that I am this lucky, that I am being given this chance. And I want so badly to call and tell him about the sunset, about the colors, about the rocks, about my strong legs—and it all sticks inside of me instead. This is a different crying—big gulps and bouncing tears. And then I’ll notice that the slant of sun has changed and I’ll cycle back to the silent tears of gratitude
All so tightly woven together, I couldn’t begin to tease them apart. Not that I’d want to. That’s what these days are for me, this is my season. Days of joyful, mournful gratitude.