First camping trip without John

Journal, July 6, 2014

This weekend marked the first family camping trip since John died. Understandably, it was a bit of a roller coaster. It was almost impossible to get ready for the trip as I felt frozen with grief and overwhelmed with the idea of doing it by myself. I almost couldn’t pull myself together and was lucky to have a couple of friends swoop in and help me get ready while I tried to just keep breathing. Once we arrived on Mul-acres (our land in Okanogan), I found that it was good, healthy in fact, to be out on our land and to embrace the things that we/John love/loved together, rather than shrinking away from them. On the flip side, it hurt so incredibly much to not have him with us. I saw him in everything out there – in our beat up old campervan, in the cabin that he and Michael had been building together, in his beer bottle caps left in the dirt from previous trips, in our campfires (he would have made them bigger than I did), and in the beautiful stars that came out so brightly at night, the ones that he and I would gaze on together while his arms were wrapped tightly around me.

Yesterday morning I was especially sad, and so I climbed into the campervan bed that my kids shared. I snuggled them, while weeping. Isabella was quiet. She doesn’t choose to talk about John, and when emotional conversations about him unfold, she changes the subject. Melanie wants to talk about him. In this case, she said a number of things. I didn’t say much, just listened and smiled at her through tears. She said –

“Mama, don’t be so sad. Dada won’t be dead forever, because he can be reborn.”

“And mama, you can be reborn too, so that means you can be with him and marry him again some day.”

“Mama, maybe when Isabella and I are reborn someday then all of us can be a family again.”

After that last statement, she lit up with the light of hope.

John – every fiber of my being aches for you. My grief is such a vast ocean that I can barely dip my toe in. It feels like, were I to fully embrace my true sorrow, my heart would rip open so badly that I would drown in a pool of my own blood on the ground. So I touch my grief as I am able and am aware that I have only scratched the surface of the grieving that I will do over the next several decades that I will be without you. I let myself cry at times, but keep myself from drowning. I want you to know that I will always be strong for our girls and for your mom. A future without you is the most heartbreaking thing I could imagine, but still – I face it with the incredible strength that only your Mountain Girl could have, and with the support of the unconditionally loving community around me.

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