From 2010 ~ July 23

// July 23rd, 2010 // From the forthcoming book "Losing Steve: One Mother's Journey Through Grief"

For six years now, the weeks leading up to July 23 are always hard. Oh…I know that the Good Lord has renewed my joy. That’s not the issue. This physical being I am (what I sometimes call ~ borrowed from Oingo-Boingo~ “walking with a dead man over my shoulder”) weighs me down with the physical memory of those weeks in 2003. My mind and my body drag, my tears come easily. But on July 23 or 24, I usually wake up alone, that is, without that dead man hanging on me.
This morning I awoke at 5:40 with a smile. Nick got here at 6:00 to pick me up for a trip out to Steve’s favorite place on earth. I took a pillow with me knowing that I would fall asleep on the two hour drive out to Ocotillo Wells, but I didn’t! My son and I talked all the way. That guy is never boring!
After a quick pit-stop at the Ranger Station we took the truck out onto the hard packed roads and right on up the sandy hill behind Devil’s Slide.
It was different out there this time. The sky wasn’t as clear as usual ~ obscuring the more distant mountains; we encountered several intrepid off-roaders, when we are usually the only people to be seen away from the ranger station; and the temperature was…well…temperate. It couldn’t have been more than ninety-five and was just a bit muggy. We’re used to it being 114 or more on our annual visits, and often dry as dust.
Even the quiet was changed somehow. With just the two of us there I could hear birds in the distance, insects buzzing, and a lizard scurry across the sand.
Nick left me alone on the hill top when he ran to get a bottle of water. I was alone with my thoughts and realized…I need to quiet those thoughts (something I am not good at AT ALL!) I felt like I was wasting a golden opportunity. I needed to listen. Hear what God wants me to hear!
As I quieted my racing thoughts, for the tiniest fraction of a second I felt Steve standing beside me. In that moment his presence was soft and comforting. As the feeling of Steve faded, the love of God wrapped me completely in a cloud of peace and…and…oh! How to define a realm that has no physical parameters!?
After a few more minutes sitting on that rock, feeling the sun soak into my skin, I knew it was time to leave. I walked down the sandy slope, checking each footstep before taking another, and the cloud of comfort came with me. I am not alone, and never will be.

Leave a Reply