Number 33

“I’m headed up Denali for a shift. If anything happens, I have the Outward Bound van stashed at _________’s place and the key is tied to the rear axle.”

Those were some of the last words I heard Mike say before he went up on Denali and died.

And today, of all days, my son popped in unexpectedly and when he threw his keys on my kitchen counter, I saw the number tag from that van that Mike had stashed in Talkeetna when he flew in to the glacier.

There’s no mistaking an old COBS key ring

I didn’t know it still existed.

My breath caught and I reached for it without a thought, mesmerized; flooded with feelings: physical stirrings, an emotional rinse; just a moment wherein I was completely taken over with unconscious memory.

For a brief moment I was transported twenty years back in time and I was outside that van, about to unlock it, and open the door onto the pieces of Mike’s life that were tucked away waiting for him to come off the mountain.

The smell that bowled me over when that door slid back was a combination of chain saw two-stroke gas, dirty socks, mildewed rain gear, and wood stove smoke. It’s the smell of my memories of Mike.

As I held the 33 in my hand, my brain was breathing in the fragrance of him.

And my sweet sweet boy said, “Do you want it mom?”

Never one to take anything from my generous children, I tried to hesitate, I imagined saying no thank you, and yet “yes” flew from my mouth completely unhindered.

And now it’s mine.

September 14

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Accident.

One year.

It’s been the longest, saddest, hardest, scariest year of my family’s life, and yet, it feels like it can’t possibly be an entire year since that night.

I haven’t really written many details about the accident or the fallout from it, out of respect for my son and the other families involved. I’m holding true to that but I will share what happened:

My guy and three of his friends chose a random place in the country to hang out and party. Then they all got into my son’s truck to drive home.

He hit a huge cottonwood.

There were broken femurs, a broken jaw, a broken face, a broken neck, and several other serious injuries. Children were airlifted to other hospitals. My son was transferred from police custody to the ICU.

He was charged with 3 felony counts of vehicular assault which each carry a sentence of up to 5 years in prison. Add an aggravated DUI to that with up to a year in county jail for that one – and no, nothing could be served consecutively.

Meanwhile, his friends and their families were moving through the not so gentle aftermath of that night, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

We went through the system, and yes, it is a very slow process.

Painfully so.

When we finally got around to his sentencing we had accepted a plea agreement from the District Attorney, which keeps him out of prison as long as he adheres to demands of his probation for the next 2 years. Also at the end of that two years, he will be able to say that he is not a convicted felon.

The State owns him, which is fine with me – he fucked up – but his life will not be shaped by a felony record.

Most importantly, his three friends are alive and well.

 

 

 

 

Too little too late

Still in the thick of the anniversary month, but it’s coming to a close.

To celebrate, I’ve broken my foot, received a notice that I might owe my ex-husband $4000, and, got an email from MXB offering to talk.

A year ago, I repeatedly tried to get him to talk to me about why he was treating us the way that he was. What happened to make him turn his back on us as if we’d never existed? How could he justify moving on immediately with one of my closest friends? Why did he tear us apart instead of handling things with integrity and compassion.

I’ve tried a few times over the last year also – when things came up.

You know, like finding out about him hitting on our married friend.

Anyway, this is not to rehash.

So the other day I get, totally out of the blue “Sorry it took me so long to get back to you, but I am open to talking now.”

Sorry it took so long? It’s been a fucking year.

And, “I am open to talking,” not “I would like to talk.”

Big difference there

God how I have wanted to hear what happened, wanted to hear that he really did love me, loved my family. I’ve wanted a gut level apology for the shitty way that I was treated.

And yet, with this email came an unexpected reaction – I don’t care any more.

I realize that I’m not going to get what I want, what I need. And even if I do, what good is it going to do me?

And do I still need or want it?

Not really.

And I question, isn’t the timing a little coincidental – he and that good friend of mine just split.

What a surprise that didn’t work out (she says with deep sarcasm.)

So I thought, is there anything that he could say that would make any difference?

Nope.

Is there anything that he could say that I would even believe?

Is he still a chicken shit?

So I wrote back that the time for and my interest in having that particular conversation have passed.

And with the push of the button marked Send, I freed my heart.

 

family

I just want to say that I am one of the lucky ones.

I am spending this week with my parents and two of my kiddos. We are together 24/7. I am even sharing a bed with my mom. The boys and I had an adventure today then came home and spent the evening with the grandparents.

There has been laughter and quality conversation and sharing and honesty and openness and sincerity and love.

What there hasn’t been…

Strife

Family “dynamics”

Stress

Disagreement

Arguing

Traumatic triggering

Anger

Resentment

Passive aggression

Disgruntlement

A desire to be anywhere else

I dig my parents.

I fucking adore my kids.

There is no where that I would rather be this week. Any week. Any time.

There are absolutely no people with whom I would rather be.

I have the most amazing family in the world.

I know that this is rare – that so many families have undercurrents of shit.

Not us.

And I do NOT take that for granted in any way.

I say that we are lucky but the reality is, when you put this many fantastic people in the same place at the same time, you can’t help but love every second.

#sayingaprayerofthanks, #lovemymommyanddaddy, #mykidsarebadass, #mydadisafuckingriot, #momsmybestfriend, #howdmykidsturnoutsowell?

I need something

Besides sex, I need something else – a purpose or a change – something to get excited about, look forward to, to ponder, to wonder, to wish for – something positive to occupy my brain.

I am depressed and lonely – not horribly so, but it’s there enough that I have to consciously fight against it to get out of bed and do the day.

After sleeping most of the weekend away, I forced myself out yesterday and went on one of my go-to adventures: a trip to Silverton.

Silverton is where I had some of the best times of my life, where I felt strong and competent and light. Plus, it’s so fucking beautiful and feels like home. Going there usually helps any negative feelings wash right off and all I am left with are elation and joy.

It didn’t really work yesterday. I spent most of the day driving around crying; loud crying that just wouldn’t stop.

I was going to drive up one of the passes and hike along a ridge above tree line to get to an old haunt that I haven’t visited in years, but on my way up 550, it rained a bit and I resigned myself to not hiking above tree line for fear of lightning.

The day just fell apart from there. I got in my head that there was going to be lightning (danger) everywhere so hiking as an activity was off the list.

Then I decided that I would still drive the pass but after dealing with one mildly rough road and a bunch of OHV’s I decided that I wasn’t in the mood to go four-wheeling either.

So I chose to drive up into a gulch that I remember as beautiful. The road was more narrow and steep than I recalled. I got a few miles up and then hit a turn that would have sent me plummeting had I made one wrong move and I turned back.

What happened Sally? What happened to your ease and comfort in the mountains? Where’s your badassery?

I used to drive HUGE F350 cage trucks up, down, and over way worse, fearlessly, and yesterday I couldn’t make it around a simple bend.

And, the skies were clear.

Why did I sabotage my own day?

Because I am sad and lost and directionless. My self-esteem has been shot to hell.

I need something to which I can look forward; but it needs to be ongoing, not just a one day event. I’m going to Florida with my kids next week, which is great, but I am already dreading coming home to the humdrum.

Recently there was a possibility (again) of moving to Utah, and there was a not-boyfriend in the picture who had the potential of becoming a boyfriend.

Neither one happened. The stars did not align for the move (this town just will not let go) and the not-boyfriend became a not not-boyfriend, which is fine.

But those two things gave me reason to get up every day: I had something to anticipate, get excited about, hope for, and it helped.

Now I am left alone with my grief, my lack of direction, the weight of it being one year later and not feeling like I’ve landed on my feet – at least not yet.

It could be worse – my son could be in jail. Someone could have died that night. I know enough to be eternally grateful.

But with all the friends in the world, I am lonely. And not necessarily in a “I need a man” kind of way, but there is a hole in my world, in my heart, that still exists; it hasn’t filled itself in yet.

Part of me is thankful to have life be back to normal, uneventful. I keep saying “Boring is good” after this last drama-filled year.

But back to normal is relative. I no longer have a normal to return to – my normal was obliterated.

And I’m not the same person. This year has made me feel old, weary. I don’t have joy in my world like I used to, daily. I wouldn’t necessarily say cynical and jaded, but worn down?

Yes.

Less enthused. Sporting a blanket of sadness. Heavy.

I want something to bring me back to joy, excitement, enthusiasm, lighthearted happiness.

Any suggestions?

 

alone

I blew off paddle boarding with friends today to instead go alone with my dog.

I had to force myself to go to the coffee shop to have some human interaction before I hole up for the rest of the weekend.

I did not bring my dog because he didn’t want to sit in the hot car.

I keep looking for him.

I spoke to him in the car.

He was at home.

He loves to paddle board. He willingly hops on and is good for at least an hour before he needs to stretch his legs. Sometimes he sits at the helm, others, he scouts behind us for attacking sharks.

He loves to watch birds.

He’s afraid of buoys. I found this out recently when I got close to one and heard a sudden splash behind me. I have no idea if he backed off accidentally or jumped off to swim away, but either way, he ended up in over his head out of utter terror.

With entertainment like that, who needs friends?

 

what I found out

he fucking propositioned one of our friends, who is married, while we were together, in a drunken stupor, because he thought they should have babies together

he said that I would be okay, her husband would be okay, and our community wouldn’t mind

thank god we’re not together any more

no wonder this breakup was such a shit show