Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Frozen Tearsicles

The Iditarod Trail is an ephemeral thing, lasting for just one season each year. It is also essentially perpetual, renewed again the following winter after inevitable spring thaws. Unfortunately, the continuity of our own lives is never quite so certain and none of us knows exactly how many seasons we will have.


I arrived at the final checkpoint of the Iditarod Trail Invitational to learn that my father had passed away the previous night. He'd been dealing with a number of health issues with significant degeneration over the past couple years, but I did get to spend time with him before departing for Alaska. He had just been released from the hospital and we were hopeful to see this as just another minor setback. It was, apparently, not to be.

Encouraged by my family to finish the race, I knew I would not be able to get much sleep at that point so I headed back out into the night. Walking the frozen trail, watching the northern lights and, eventually, falling asleep in my bivy beneath the star-filled Alaskan sky, I thought about my dad.

The next morning, I continued down the remainder of the final 50-mile stretch with a lifetime of memories as my companion. There were some difficult moments and one near-complete breakdown, but I'm glad that I was able to spend this time "with him" on the trail.


6 comments:

Olga King said...

So, so sorry, Steve. Glad you had time prior this trip, and that your family is so understanding that your grieving process might be the way it is - or, may be they pointed you to it. Memories is often all we have in life, whether of those who passed away or are away and different...

Lambie said...

I'm sorry for you and your family's loss. I can't even imagine what you are going through.

Your father was sure to have seen and felt your precious message.

Kevin said...

Steve --

So sorry to hear about your Dad. I'm glad I had the chance to get to know him back when you and I were in high school. I remember his general good nature, and his occasional irreverence and goofy sense of humor, things you inherited of course.

Can't believe this happened while you were trekking across that frozen wilds of Alaska--grief like that can be pretty overwhelming and even incapacitating. But I'm glad you made it through, and that you can now spend some time with your family and those who loved your dad.

Take care of yourself.

Kevin

kelly said...

I am so sorry, Steve, to hear about your Dad's passing. Losing a parent is so difficult. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I hope that your good memories of your Dad carries you through this difficult time. Take good care of yourself.
Kelly Ridgway

d davis said...

So sorry Steve. What a beautiful way to honor your Dad!

Tiffany Guerra said...

I am so sorry for this, Steve. My heart is truly sad for this. In an odd way I am glad you got to spend time on the trail to contemplate this, yet nothing takes away that pain. All the best to you and your family.