I want to tell you a story about my husband.
Last October, we went on an unplanned hike. I wanted to see the aspens before they lost their leaves, and it was too late to see them further west into the mountains, so we drove to a little place not too far from here just off of Highway 285 near Conifer called Myer’s Ranch. Our plan was to find a little place off the road to eat the lunch we’d packed which consisted of our usual favorite picnic fare — summer sausage, a block of cheese, a baguette and, last but not least, a bottle of Chianti.
Gregg had just recently interviewed for a promotion. The interview was really just a formality — he knew he would get it — so in anticipation of having to write the biography required for his new position, he asked me to take a few pictures of him to possibly use as a profile picture. I snapped the obligatory shots, knowing all too well from past experience that he would instantly reject them all once he saw them. He was the photographer in the family, and the photos I took with my iPhone seldom passed muster, not to mention he NEVER liked any pictures of himself. I was sure he would complain that he looked like a goon, the framing was off, the pose was awkward, or the lighting was all wrong. In the end, I figured he’d end up asking his friend, Pete, who was far more skilled in photography than I, to take his photo.
As the hike progressed, each turn on the trail proved more enchanting than the last, pulling us further and further up the mountain. I began to enjoy watching him walk ahead of me, taking pictures of the golden shimmering leaves with his beloved Canon Rebel. I was inspired to take more pictures of him unposed— my love in his element, doing what he loved best, communing with nature and attempting to capture it in a photo that he could later pull up on his computer screen at home and savor.
We ended up climbing all the way to the summit, where we ate our lunch and drank our wine. That was the kind of hiking we liked to do. The wine always made it just that much easier to come down.
As we descended the mountain, he walked ahead of me while I continued to take pictures of him. The photo above, the one he actually ending up choosing for his bio profile picture, was the very last photo I snapped. I didn’t know that this would be the last hike we would take together — a hike we never intended to take.
We were looking forward to the next chapter of our lives. We talked often about what were going to do once both the kids were in college, leaving us to rediscover each other and our relationship. In fact, we talked about it on this last hike. We loved the prospect of growing old together. We laughed at the vision we had of ourselves in the winter of our lives — two old, crazy, eccentric, tree-huggin’ hippies.
Turns out, it was already Winter.
Gregg left this world on January 7, 2014. We had been together for 25 years. Over half of his life, he spent with me. For that, at least, I am grateful. He taught me how to see, really SEE, the world around me. He taught me to notice the colors of the morning sky, he taught me the names and the calls of each bird, he taught me to appreciate all the beauty of this earth.
It’s all still pretty raw, and it may be a little soon to begin writing about it, but the Universe has been tugging me back to my blog. Gregg wouldn’t have wanted me to stop writing. In fact, he scolded me often for not focusing more on what I always said was my life’s dream. He would want me to continue on the journey we had planned to take together, and so I will.
And I will carry his heart in mine as I go.