Dearest Rachel –
It’s been several days since I’ve gotten home, but there are still some images from the YMCA of the Rockies that struck me that I haven’t shared with you yet. Throughout the park, I observed a number of memorials set up from and of people who contributed to the park. There was one in particular that happened to catch my eye from almost the moment I stepped out of the van, because rather than being a single stone or bench, it was a series of markers around a campfire site.
It starts out on the lowest level by commemorating the patriarchs of the family (Henry and Marie Dreffin, for the record), with the subtitle “The Journey Began.” The second beam presumably honors a subsequent generation (Bill and Deln Dreffin) with the legend “The Journey Continued.”
But then, the third beam honors only Deln, and introduces her (I assume it’s Bill’s wife, at any rate) with “The Journey Continued Alone.”
Now, from what I can tell, she was sixty-six when she lost Bill in 1988, and soldiered on for nearly two decades, as the final bench honors her with a simple “In Loving Memory, Deln Dreffin 1922-2007.” Her journey continued alone for some nineteen years.
I don’t care how old you get to be, that’s a long time to be alone. Heck, if you were to ask me, even eight months is a long time.
I know that Kevin and Ellen and Erin would argue that it’s not nearly that hard; and if my life hadn’t included you at my side for so long, I might even agree with them. Humans are a resilient species; we can, as a group and as individuals, acclimatize ourselves with just about anything (for good or for ill). We can live alone or in groups and consider whatever our experience is as perfectly normal.
But when that ‘normal’ is yanked away from you, what then?
At least for now, it seems that I have to be like Grandma Deln here, and continue alone. I can only hope that this will change someday, but I don’t live in that future yet.
As always, honey, wish me luck.