(Note: This post was written before the massive shut-downs and stay-at-home orders that have taken place across our country—I did not foresee that bit as I wrote this piece. I hope you can read the following, understanding that my previous views were through a different lense. I was very sick at the time with symptoms of the Covid19 virus, and I felt staying home was the safest and most prudent choice. Now, nearly 3 months later, I am extremely saddened by the hardships those orders caused so many… So much does not make sense to me, but the sentiment of valuing our loved ones above worldly things is what I hope you will gleen from this post—that is my sincere prayer!!!❤️🙏❤️)
I cast my gaze towards the spectacular San Juan mountain range, my heart skips a beat, then I let out a deep sigh… They are perfect. Blanketed in great, cloudy tufts of pristine, white snow, nestled beneath thick, grey storm clouds as I speak, my winter bliss has come to an abrupt end—a most painful prospect for all of Colorado’s cold-weather friends!!!! It was NOT supposed to end this way… With an abundance of snow left begging to be ridden, it feels almost criminal that it should all go to waste.
My heart aches, and I cannot bear to gaze upon those snow-capped peaks any longer. A silent tear rolls down my cheek….Though I have never shared this with anyone, it has been my own personal, end-of-season tradition (for countless years now) to stop on some quiet, remote spot of the mountain and give thanks to my God for a fruitious winter. Then, I plead with Him to please allow me to return again next year!!! This time, my opportunity for that plea never came.
Snowboarding, and the mountains, and my dear mountain buddies have all gotten me through some of the most daunting challenges of my life—especially my daughter’s death. I am so grateful for this blessing. When I am riding, I am only riding. My mind is clear and free… When I cannot snowboard, I dream about snowboarding, and it calms my nerves. I cannot explain it, but it is truly a part of who I am…
My darling daughter, Josie, is also an integral part of me—FAR more than snowboarding, or mountains, or even dearly beloved friends… Literally born of my own flesh and blood, there is a magical thread that interweaves our hearts together. Similar to riding, I think of her every minute of every hour that she is not here… and also like when I am riding—only MUCH more so, her angelic presence brings a great calm to the unquenchable longing in my soul.
When everyone’s activities and livelihood were all brought to a crashing halt last week amid the COVID-19 crisis our world is experiencing, I was seriously disappointed in the responses of some around me. Many were reluctant to cancel big, pre-planned events and vacations, while others were mourning the fact that their senior years had come to a sudden end. My younger daughter had her gymnastics season (including a state meet) cut short—all that hard work and progress out the window… Her response: “Well, at least I have longer to work on my skills now!!”
Her journey through grief has taught her that there are far more important things in life to lament than missing out on gymnastics, or orchestra—or even snowboarding for that matter. While I can empathize with all who have had to sacrifice something big amidst this global pandemic (my own son was denied military leave, and we were soooo looking forward to seeing him!), that feeling of utter defeat and brokenness that comes with the death of a loved one is beyond comparison to the sacrifice of any worldly pursuit, or possession, or experience. Period.
While I am thankful that I have been able to consistently enjoy my mountain retreats every season since Josie’s death, I am also ready and willing to be still for a time. It is my sincere hope and prayer that this nightmarish virus will swiftly pass us by—sparing the lives of all our precious ones. There is no greater gift than the relationships we cherish with one another. We must do everything we can to ensure that they remain intact…
When Josie was ripped from this world, she left a whole slew of unfinished goals and other amazing, and wonderful works in progress… This has been absolutely devastating to come to terms with and extremely difficult to accept. Much like the snow that gracefully rests atop those peaks, waiting to be ridden, her life was replete with magnificent aspirations that are now mere ghost dreams.
As some continue to whine and complain about how their lives and livelihoods have been negatively affected by this horrible plague, let us count our many blessings and give thanks to God if we still have loved ones to hold. For those unfortunate enough to have experienced the loss of a dear one, like my little girl, Maya, you are better equipped to weather this present storm… Dreams keep us hopeful, and they keep us moving forward—even if they are just ghosts. The real treasure is something much more tangible and very often overlooked!!!