It has been two years today since you left us dear. In the days after your passing, before we all gathered to say our goodbyes, I wrote the words below. Tonight as I prepare for the morning, I reflect on your life and what it meant to be a part of it and I reflect on the landscape of my life in all the time since.
I have stumbled along the way. Losing you has proven to be the second hardest thing I’ll ever have to do. Living without you beinng the hardest.
Still tonight as I read back over your eulogy, I am on the cusp of an adventure which I never could have dreamed of without you. Next week I will climb to the top of Max Patch Bald… finally finishing the hike that was suppose to be our starting point for so many other walks throughout life. From there I will embark on a truely Bethanyesque adventure… heading north on the remaining 1925 miles of the Appalachain Trail to the north… only stopping when I either run out of trail or time. Hopefully the the former.
I can’t wait.
I hope you come along. I hope you see the things I get to see. Please be with me along the way.
Yes… I have stumbled through much over the last two years… but I try my best to live up to the beauty you brought to, and found in the world.
I hope I have honored the spirit of you I tried to put into words below. I promise I will continue to try.
See you on the trail Dear. I love you.
There are, no doubt, many people here who were fortunate enough to know Bethany longer than I did, but for the last six months of her life I had the honor of knowing her in a very special way. Believe me, it was a very important and good time to know her. In the last few days I have been overwhelmed with the phone calls and letters from all around the country from people telling me that she was the happiest she had ever been. There are so many things to say about her life I can’t even fathom reaching beyond this vast reservoir of memories I’ve been allowed. I’ll try for her.
I do believe that she spent 2010 happier than she knew she could be. I could see it in her eyes and her smile. I used to tell her all the time that my favorite sound in the world was her laughter. I’m glad I got to hear it so often.
We had all night dance parties, just the two of us and a stack of records.
We were giddy with excitement to till our first garden. We called our little patches of lettuce and basil our first children.
We took walks that lasted forever but should have lasted longer. Around the block or at Ijams, on sacred family land or in the beauty of the mountains. Sometimes we brought our dogs and sometimes we got selfish and wanted only one another. regardless of the days recipe, the walks were always beautiful.
Beautiful. Ha. Bethany found more beauty in the time I knew her than I had found in a lifetime. Not a day would go by that she wouldn’t point to a cloud or a flower and say, “Baby, look at how beautiful it is.” I would always smile and agree but to me the thing of beauty was always much closer. It was her. I’d tell her and she’d smile even bigger and when she did she only shined more.
She found that beauty in the obvious places, yes… but also in the places you’d never even look. She’d find a flower in a trash heap and hear a bird singing next to a train. She somehow found what she called beauty within this incomplete man that I was before her, and then she completed me. I’ve never imagine a person so wonderful and kind and grateful that she would react to me bringing home dishwashing liquid like it was a dozen roses. But I found that person in Bethany.
After some subtle (and not so subtle) suggestions that I should propose… I think she knew that I was finally going to do it friday when we reached the top of Max Patch. She was giddy and she shined more than ever all day that day.
Driving up the last of the roads to the Patch the clouds broke and brilliant sunshine poured down on us. She turned to me and said, “That’s the difference between me and everyone else. Everyone else would see the rain and turn around. But I go looking for the sunshine and when I find it I grab it while I can.”
Yes Bethany, you surely did. And you taught me to do the same I will love you forever for that.
So despite these tears I am not as sad as people are telling me it’s okay to be. And as tempting as it is, I cannot find one ounce of anger with God. I’m remembering everything I got and not wasting a minute mourning the things I’ll never get. I’m living in the last words she spoke only seconds before God gave her back to the earth which she so loved… “God, Baby… Look… It’s so beautiful.”
I owe it to her to grab that sunshine and to never let it go.