Patrick and I took a little mini vacation together this past week to Aspen. Holy beautiful. What an amazing, breathtakingly beautiful place. We had such a wonderful time. He said we can make it an annual event!! I plan to take him up on that. Aspen has always been “that dream place for me”. So unattainable and far from reality for so long. But I now allow myself to dream about Aspen. About owning a little mountain house there one day. Where I can spend almost all day everyday hiking and writing in a peaceful setting. It is becoming increasingly clear that this “city girl” is a mountain girl at heart. My soul is so happy in the mountains.
And as I work to build my business I dream. I DREAM BIG. Because why not? Whats the point in a small dream? One day…one day…ASPEN!
I had mapped out the way we would drive to Aspen and as I looked at the map a few weeks back I noticed something. Just about 18 miles off of our route is the spot where my Dad died. Eight years ago. He hit a deer on his motorcycle while vacationing with some buddies. Over the past eight years I have not read all of the details of the police report that I have. Never wanted to. I had this picture in my head of what that place looked like. A lonely mountain windy road that took my Dad. Where he died without us.
They say there are a few major events that happen in our lives that define us. That change us. I believe thats true. I had my heart broken once, I had quite a few miscarriages before I had healthy kids, I had two healthy kids, my Dad died tragically, my husband got brain rot. Yep- Ive had a few defining events. They make me who I am. That’s life. We all have our stuff.
And this PLACE where he died. Where he laid in that highway alone without us. Where a stupid fucking deer decided to jump out. Im not quite sure why the idea of this PLACE took up such space in my head. But it has not escaped me that my move to Colorado placed me closer to the PLACE he died. And not accidentally. When looking for a place to LIVE LIFE after Patrick’s diagnosis I could think of nowhere else I’d rather be. There is a reason my Dad loved this place. A reason he visited so often. It’s a pretty friggin’ gorgeous place to live.
So I asked Patrick if he would drive me to the PLACE. On our way to our little mini vacation. Without missing a beat he said “sure, no problem”. Thats it. He didn’t say much else. He didn’t need to. Maybe he needed to see the PLACE as much as I did. After all…this is the guy who read my eulogy for me at my Dad’s funeral because I just couldn’t. And as my friend, Stephanie Richardson says “sometimes people step in for each other when they cannot do things for themselves”. I think that is the true definition of love.
So we went. It’s 18 miles off of the main road. Good God that was a long 18 miles. I wasn’t nearly as nervous or anxious or sad as I thought I’d be. I was surprised. It did not look at all as I expected. It did not look lonely or sad or desolate. As we drove up Patrick just pulled over. It was beautiful. There is a windy gorgeous river that runs alongside of the road. There is a majestic view of the mountains. There are horses below on a horse farm. It is open and airy and peaceful. And the strangest thought crossed my mind. This very view, this exact view, this picture of beauty is the very last thing my Dad saw. And a sense of something washed over me. I don’t know what. It damn sure wasn’t closure. I HATE that stupid word. It wasn’t happiness or sadness or grief. I don’t really know what it was. Maybe just a sense of closeness to someone I miss very much. And I feel grateful that I got to see that view- the same view he saw. What a beautiful last view.
I could not have gone there 7 years ago. Or even last year. I may never go there again who knows. But Wednesday I could go there. Because that was the right time. And Im glad I did. I did not cry. I was not sad. I miss him…but I think tears are only one way of expressing grief or sadness or despair. There are MANY ways, as Ive learned over the years, to express your feelings. Not all of them are sane or rational or pretty. And that is OK. So if going to a SPOT in the road where your Dad died doesn’t make much sense to some or sounds morbid or weird…thats ok. I don’t need anyone to understand it.
There was this cool quote that several people sent to me and wrote on my Dad’s memorial when he died. I love it. Such a poignant quote. It has always stayed with me. And as Patrick & I stayed at the Hotel Jerome in Aspen I was so excited to sit in the J-Bar downstairs and occupy the same space that Hunter S. Thompson occupied to write. He has always been an anomaly to me- sort of this mystical figure I wanted to be. I just love some of his work. So we got back home and I looked for that quote that I had loved that described my Dad so well and holy shit….do you know who said it? Yep- Hunter S. Thompson. How about that…Aspen is in my blood now…no going back. Im not big on “everything happens for a reason” but Im pretty sure Dad had a hand in some of this week.