Updated: Feb 20, 2020
If I offend anyone I am sorry but February is my least favorite month of the year. It always has been regardless of where I lived. Even though the month is short it seems that most of the days are overcast and cold. It is winter.
Of course winter is not only a season; we go through the winters of our lives after devastating events: loss of a loved one, ending of a marriage, loss of a job etc. And suddenly, even if it is July and sunny outside, we find our world cold and grey. It is hard to find joy in those days.
The benefit of winter of course is that it is a good time to hunker down, stay inside and read or rest or reflect. It is a good time to practice self-care. Go to bed early, watch your favorite movies and eat comfort foods.
On these cold and dreary winter days I find that if I make myself get out and spend time in nature that I feel better. Even though it might be yuck outside, if I bundle up appropriately I usually have a great hike, find some unexpected company, but mostly have the trails to myself and feel lighter and happier when I return home. Today was no exception. I took out for the trails that I thought would be empty talking to myself and to Tristan and Drew as it they were right there with me. But suddenly I looked over and there they were, the deer that always appear when I am out there. We have a large family of deer living behind our house out on Tristan's Trail, the bike trail named after our son. Many times when I am out walking I'll look up to find one of them staring at me as if waiting expectedly for me. And sometime the family will appear. Today was one of those days. Their visits always make me smile. I like to imagine that they are there, waiting for me, to give me a sign. I guess after Tristan died I added the appearance of deer as a sign of his continued presence in my life. And so when I suddenly see one just staring at me it feels like they are there to let me know that even though he is gone from this world that Tristan is still very much present in my life. It is comforting.
And then the bikers flew by; It is, after all, a bike trail. And I'm always happy to see the bikers who seem to love riding this particular trail even though we have miles and miles of awesome bike trails in our region. It makes my heart smile. Tristan would be stoked and think it is so cool to have a trail named after him! And it is....except that he is not here to enjoy it. But it brings me peace. So I walk, even in winter. Even when my soul feels like winter. I hike the trail, talk to my children that live in heaven, and look for the deer that always seem to appear. And then winter fades away and it is spring again, or summer, in my soul.
Updated: Feb 20, 2020
It's Christmas, our second since Tristan ran ahead to Heaven. Our second year without a stocking to fill for him. No gifts to buy him. No wondering what he will accomplish in the coming year. Now we not only have the tree at the house to decorate but I go out to the base of the biking trails he loved riding and decorate a small tree planted in memory of him. And it is sad. My heart still feels shattered and I cry most every day. It shouldn't be this way. He should be here, living and loving life, biking and hiking, finishing college and preparing to begin his life out on his own as an adult, living his dreams.
Years ago, before my husband and I married, we took pictures with the kids in front of this stream that flows from a Hidden Spring. Now, Tristan's memorial tree faces this tranquil view. I love seeing this, the water gently flowing over the rocks. It is peaceful and constant, yet fluid and always changing. It comforts me and reminds me that even though life changes, there are things that are constant, like our love for our children. And it doesn't matter whether they live on earth or have gone on to Heaven, our love for them remains and continues to flow. They say that grief is just love with no where else to go. So the tears flow but the love remains.
Sometimes when I am hiking, and my thoughts inevitably turn to Tristan, something happens. Typically a deer will appear, sometimes two or three of them, or a butterfly, bird or other animal. The deer usually will just stand and stare intensely, and somehow it is comforting. It is then that I feel closer to Tristan, but also to others like my Granddad, who loved being in the woods. And I feel more connected to God. Hiking gives me a chance to really listen, to hear what He is trying to say and where He is leading me. Occasionally I get some good ideas for Speakup About Drugs, but mostly I leave the woods with my mind more clear and my soul light.
I walk past Tristan's playground which included the bike jumps he spent hours mastering. If I really listen I can still hear him laughing as he flew off the platforms. I can still seem him soar through the air before landing with a light bounce. These memories fill me up and make my heart hurt a little bit less, for just a second or two.
When it's time to go, to re-enter the new reality I find myself in, the one without Tristan in it, I try. to hold on to the feelings of serenity received from the woods. #Hiking4Healing, it is such a gift, to be able to go to the woods to calm my soul, to connect with God and remember our life before. It is only out in nature that I feel truly free and unencumbered by the pain of this great loss. Where I feel that this is surely as God intended, part of His greater plan. And it is then well with my soul, that I will go on. I will cross that bridge and continue down this path laid out in front of me. But I also go with the certainty that He is out there, and so is my son, and that someday I will cross another bridge that will lead me to my forever home, where this pain will be no more and we will live together forever in perfect peace.