Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Life is a River

I do not like dying. None of us do, I suppose. Every time someone or something we love dies, part of us dies, too.
Whenever I return to Yosemite, I want to see the places I’ve come to love, but invariably they have changed in some way, and I can’t stop them from doing this. After my wife died, I wanted to preserve every aspect of my life with her, but I suspect that if I’m focused on an increasingly dusty past, I will miss seeing what life is doing now. Trying to stop life from changing is like trying to hold back the flow of the Merced River with my hands. 

I do not like it when the air turns cold and leaves fall off the trees in autumn, the woods go bare, and green bushes turn brown. Because of the warm green shades of summer, I’m not a fan of muted brown. I turn away from the windows thinking that life has ended outside and there is nothing more to see. 
Yet, when the leaves are gone, I can see further into the distance and notice a barred owl sitting on a branch, deer moving down by the creek, and the sunset lighting up the bare trees in the woods. The brown colors are warm and inviting, and the scent of the autumn woods makes me think of deeper and eternal matters.
Then snow falls and changes the personality of the woods again, this time into a stunning landscape of white with black brushstrokes, and its quietness astounds me. I forget about autumn as I fall in love with winter, and I will not want it to change into spring. Then it does.

In spring, the river fills up with snow that has recently melted in the highlands. From the middle of Mirror Meadow, I’m delighted to find that I have a clear view of Half Dome rising 5000 feet above me without the trees blocking my view, and I watch the climbers that have returned to the valley slowly making their way to the top. There is such peacefulness here.

This meadow used to be a lake with stunning reflections of the mountains, until the park stopped dredging the sediment brought in by the river. Some of my favorite trails are gone because of rockslides. This forces me to scout out new trails, and I find places in the valley that I never knew existed.

As the world keeps changing, I discover how much life there is, and how grief fits in. As I say goodbye to one season of life, I am also saying hello.