I've been procrastinating about writing this post for several days. There are times where everything is profound and you can't get the words out fast enough. Then there are times where you wake up from a three hour nap and all you want to do is drink a beer and watch the Dbacks lose another game by 12 runs. I've been stuck in this later mood for most of the day. I am mentally and emotionally drained, fighting a head cold. As a result it has been a quiet and introspective weekend. Yesterday was Melissa's 41st birthday, and the first one since she passed. I spent a lot of time leading up to this weekend thinking about it, worrying about what to do and how to keep busy. As it turns out, all of that worrying didn't amount to much. The days are unfolding at their own pace without regard to my carefully laid plans.
This is a complicated time emotionally. In addition to her birthday yesterday, Monday is the two month anniversary of our loss. In some ways I am as raw as I was on that day, in other ways I've gained some ground. This summer has been such an agonizing time. It is cliche' to say, but when you go through something like this you really do need to take it one step at a time; and realize that some of those steps are going to be backwards. We're all at different points, none of us are whole, and that is ok.
I spent the day yesterday in the Chiricahuas. Melissa and I had only been there once before, in early June, but it immediately became a very special place for her. Melissa was four months pregnant with Matthew at the time, in the throes of morning sickness, so we did not get to do much hiking. We instead found a secluded bench at the base of the Sugarloaf trail and watched a sunset together. It was a chance for Melly and I to turn off the outside world for a few minutes and just listen to nature. I hoped to recapture some small part of that feeling yesterday. It was the first time I had been back, and my first time without her with me.
My Mom made the four hour journey south with me yesterday afternoon. We arrived at the park late in the afternoon and headed for the Sugarloaf trail. Once on the trail momentum took over and soon we were half way up the peak. As the story goes, why did you climb the mountain? Because it was there.
After a couple of brushes with rattlesnakes, and several stops to take pictures along the way, we reached the top of the mountain. I found a lookout over Echo Canyon and the most spectacular view imaginable. At which point I lost it and cried for ten minutes. The sense that I was on top of the world was palpable. I felt Melissa in the way a crow was riding the thermals over the canyon. I felt Matthew in the lizard sunning himself on the rocks just to my left.
After a beautiful sunset we hiked down the mountain and got back in the car for the four hour drive north. The first two hours had us headed west, where we were treated to a waning fingernail moon on the horizon. As I drove I kept an eye on that moon and got lost in my thoughts. I thought about that crow and that lizard, I thought about where I've been and about how I don't know where I'm headed. But mostly I thought about Melissa and what it means to be gone but not really gone.
She has moved beyond my physical world in to an abstract plain. I can't say if there is a heaven in the sense of a paradise beyond our grasp. If I am feeling this pain in this world, I am assuming she is feeling this pain in hers. If she feels this pain how can such a paradise exist? I choose instead to view Melissa and Matthew in this world as the wind and the trees, as the wolves and the coyotes, as that crow and that lizard. To be on a mountain, on top of the world at sunset, with a warm rock to lay on and a gentle updraft to float on seems pretty close to heaven to me.