My late husband was an avid hiker. He always said that nature was his church. I remember he would come home looking so relaxed and balanced. He would take our Golden Retriever Sonny, into the woods and they would spend hours there. They would find a perfect tree and sleep there sometimes. Just laying in the cool moss, absorbing the energy of the forest.
So many times over the years he would ask me to come. I always had a reason to not go. I was so focused on building, chasing and running towards that rainbow of success. Jumping on a plane to spend 12 hours traveling for a two hour meeting. Layovers, hotels, airport food. My life was a series of chaotic running sessions. All for the "greater good" of securing a successful future. In twenty years I may have gone on no more than 20 hikes with by husband, TWENTY.
When my husband took his last breathe I remember leaving the hospital. When the elevator door opened there was a long hallway leading to the doors. Walking that hallway felt like The Green Mile. It was long, dark and cold. Chilling really. When I finally made it to the doors, I remember walking out into the cold, brisk air. It was hard to take a deep breathe in. I got into the car and on the passenger seat was his hat and a half eaten yogurt cup, which would be his last meal. My shaky hands started my car and I began to drive home. The drive felt like time had stood still. Nothing had changed however, my whole world had.
When I arrived at our home Charlee (our puppy) met me at the door. She had been home alone with friends checking in on her. I took her outside to pee when my neighbor came out and asked me how I was doing and how Terry was, I said, he is dead. That is all that could come out. He is dead. We both stood there in silence for a few minutes. Those first of many moments of awkward silence that I would become far too familiar with.
When I went back into the house and stood in the porch I noticed his jackets, boots and hats. All placed exactly where he had left them. I went into the kitchen and stood in front of the sink and looked out the window. I remember my body started shaking and my breathing was difficult. I started crying and then screaming, screaming so loud and so much anger coming out of my mouth. I remember holding onto the sink for support to stop me from falling on the floor. When I finally calmed down I would hear Charlee crying. I found her in the porch laying on Terrys boots, crying. I knew in that moment that we only now had each other and we would forge our way through to find our own comfort and our own journey. Our future from yesterday, no longer valid.
Having Charlee during the most intense parts of the grieving process, saved me. It forced me to get up every single day. It forced me to be responsible for someone other than my broken self. It made me accountable.
There is a small trail system behind our camper, at our campground. When we opened up the trailer that May, I took her to the trail to get a run. As I walked through the trail I remember feeling this intense sense of comfort. The tall trees, the green moss, the sun peaking through the tops of the trees. We found a tree and sat down in the moss. Charlee came right up to me and placed her head on my lap. We sat there looking around, listening to the birds and feeling the cool ground beneath us.
In that moment, I got it! I understood why he tried to push me to head into nature. To reset, to leave stress behind and to allow nature, engulf my being and every fiber of my soul. I cried, because in that moment I also realized how many times I said no. How many excuses I made and that lost time with him, to just be.
Life can be a whirlwind of chaos and busyness. We "think" that working ourselves to a point of having no time for self care is needed to meet that expectation placed on us by others and even, ourselves. The unfortunate part of this is thinking is that we have tomorrow. We do not always have tomorrow. It is never promised and when it is taken away, it will leave an unimaginable void of regret.
I would read the quote "Never put off today, what you can do tomorrow". The loss of my husband made this so incredibly clear to me. He sat in our car eating yogurt, never finished it and then he died. We did not have tomorrow.
Hiking is now a huge part of my life. Getting in nature and really feeling it, being grateful for it and allowing it to reset me. There are days when every single muscle is on fire and my brain is screaming to stop. I keep putting one foot in front of the other. Because that is the ONLY way you move forward. I no longer regret not going with my husband, those thousands of times. I feel him walking along side with us. I feel his energy, hear his voice and find comfort in knowing that he would say "Deanna, you finally got it".
Stop the spiraling insanity of busyness and take the time TODAY. Make that list of things you can do with those you love, and just go do them. The chaos and insanity will still be there tomorrow.