Friday, April 25, 2014

The Loss of Tiki

Oh wow.  It really has been too long.  I posted last in January... and it was a post about September...  

Honestly, I think the main reason I took such a long break was because I wasn't quite ready to write this next post.  The post about rock climbing in Upstate New York, the "Gunks".  The post about the people I met there, fellow cancer survivors, and what the time with those people meant to me.  The post about my dear friend, Tikvah, who was supposed to be on that trip with me.  The post about my last conversation with her, the conversation I knew would be the last we would have in this life.  And the post about how she passed away, surrounded by family in Seattle, while I was climbing the hardest route I had ever climbed, surrounded by people who knew exactly what I was losing and how I was feeling.  

I broke down at the top of that climb.  I had learned the day before that Tikvah, surrounded by family and friends, had said goodbye and that they were waiting for her to pass on.  I was overwhelmed, knowing that she would soon be gone while I lived on to climb another pitch, laugh with friends, dream and grow old with my husband, and watch my sweet baby boy grow up.  I was hurt, knowing that she should have been there, cheering me through that difficult climb where I scraped my knuckles, bashed my head, and nearly gave up.  But somehow I made it up that climb, and immediately broke into sobs.  

When we got back to the house that evening, I learned that she passed away just around the time I was on that difficult climb.  And as terribly sad that I was, I was so grateful to be with my First Descents family, one that understood my pain without speaking it, without having to offer empty words.  I was so honored to be in the company of those brave men and women who had endured so much, who felt Tikvah's pain, and comprehended my loss.

I am so grateful to have known Tiki, even if just for a short time.  She was a bright light, a wonderful friend, a naturally gifted climber, and a perfectly beautiful soul.  I live on to climb again, and her spirit lives on to cheer me up the mountain.

At the top of the climb, after the tears were wiped away.

Puzzling with "Swifty."  The night after Tikvah passed, when the largest wave of tears had passed, Swifty stayed up late with me, puzzling, drinking peppermint tea, and simply allowing me to exist in the pain of my loss.  So grateful for his friendship.

Pictures from the First Descents camp in Moab where we first met.  September 2012

We called her "Spider Monkey" because she took to climbing so well.

Beautiful, beautiful girl.

Monday, January 13, 2014

On My Own: My NYC Adventure

At the end of September, I had a fantastic opportunity to attend a First Descents rock climbing camp in upstate New York.  Camp was amazing, (as usual, but I'll post on that later), but before camp I decided to spend a few days in good old NYC.  I had never been there before and was excited to wander around by myself.  

While riding the bus into the city from the airport, I met Richard Berman, a PR guru who used to write for NBC Nightly News.  He gave me a must-see list of places to visit as well as his son's phone number, insisting we meet up because, "He's gay and those gays know all the good places around town."  (I did call him, we had lunch, he was a great guy.)

I spent the majority of my time in the city on Broadway.  While I wasn't a huge fan of Times Square (too much touristy yuck), I loved going to see shows.  The day I flew in I saw, "First Date: The Musical," starring Zachary Levi and Krysta Rodriguez.

The show was a lot of fun and the leads were both fantastic.  I hung out at the stage door because I had heard that Zachary Levi puts on a pretty good show for his fans each night: dancing, singing, the whole bit.  He didn't disappoint!

I woke up early the next morning and went on a run through Central Park.  5 miles later (didn't gauge my distance very well...), I made it back home, got ready and headed to one of my must- sees: The New York Public Library.  It was magical.  After seeing pictures and movies so many times, it was so cool to actually be there.  I sat in the Rose Main Reading Room for a good half hour, just praying & thinking.  As much as I love Grant and little Willister, it was so nice to experience this wonderful place all alone.

Then, that afternoon I went to The Glass Menagerie starring Zachary Quinto and Cherry Jones (think President Taylor from 24).  It was fantastic.  Quite a different crowd than First Date (I think I was the youngest by a good 30 years :)

I finished off my last night before camp by visiting the World Trade Center Memorial.  Wow. What a powerful and sacred place.  It was dusk when I finally got to the site, a perfect time to take it all in, to reflect, and shed a tear or two for such a great loss.  The memorial wasn't at the top of my list when I came to the city but I was so incredibly grateful that I was able to experience it.

When I got back from camp I had 36 hours in NYC before I flew back home.  I convinced my old roommate and best friend, Suzie, to come up from D.C. to spend some time with me (yay!).  We went to the American Museum of Natural History, wandered around Central Park, saw Cinderella on Broadway (so magical!), and went to church in the building that houses both a normal chapel and the Manhattan Temple.

It was a fantastic trip.  I felt so empowered and so free by visiting the city alone.  I could go wherever I wanted, do whatever I wanted to do, and sit in one spot as long as I darn well pleased.  One night, after a late show, I wandered back to where I was staying, going multiple blocks away from the quickest route intentionally.  I ended up at Rockefeller Plaza with a Magnolia Bakery Cupcake in hand.  I felt so calm, so happy, and so in control of my own destiny (however delusional that idea really is...) There were no schedule nap times to work around, no early wake ups by a crib jumping toddler, and nobody to please but myself.  

And while I was so grateful for those moments of clarity, for those opportunities to be myself apart from any other human beings, I knew that it wouldn't be lasting, and that truly, I didn't want it to be.  I am a wife, a mother, and a lover of community.  By the end of my trip,  I was ready to come back home.  I was ready to cater to nap times, hot cocoa requests, and "another story mama."  I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

South Valley Park

Still back in September, we headed out for a Saturday hike to South Valley Park, part of the Jefferson County Parks system with similar, though less dramatic, scenery to Roxborough Park, one of our favorites.  While the red rocks at South Valley aren't quite as exciting as Roxborough, it was free (woohoo!).  Roxborough is a state park and is around $10 a car to get in. 

We came a day or two after a big storm so the trails were a little sketchy.  Nothing a two year old couldn't handle!

In fact, Will would have sat there all day throwing dirt clods if we had let him.

Our trusty $10 garage sale back pack has been quite handy on our hikes.  However, the bottom strap is broken which means there's not a lot of support (resulting in ouchie backs for me & Grant).  It may be time for an upgrade.

Running, running.

Love my boys.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Temple Grounds

Back when the air was warm and we didn't need snow boots (late September, maybe?)... we headed to the Denver Temple grounds for a little family night.

The cell phone in my pocket gave me a nice booty-boost in this picture.  I've never looked so bootylicious!

Will had a blast rolling around on the grass with Daddy.

We love the temple and we love family time!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Belleview Park

So.... back in September... we headed out to a new (to us) park, Belleview Park.  We had heard great things about the train and petting zoo and Will was excited.  Our friends, the Cranes, were meeting us there, but we got there early and Will ran around by himself for a bit.

Looking for the train...

Really looking for the train...

Tunnel! One of Will's favorite things.

Love love his blonde hair.

Will and his friend, Wells, are just a few months apart.  Wells was born in Texas, right before we moved to Denver.  Luckily, Wells and his family moved to Denver just a few months ago!

The boys loved the petting zoo.  Especially Will, who is eager to get his hands on anything furry and dirty.

Maddie and Millie.  Maddie is such a stylish mama and I am always impressed with how adorable their understated, yet put together she and her children look.  Recently, Maddie opened her own Etsy shop where she sells perfect little bows for babies.  You can check it out here.

Look mama! I pet a chicken!

Of course, we had to ride the train as well.  Wells was thrilled.  No really, this is his thrilled face.


Sweet little Millie.

While we're hoping we never live in Texas again (can you say heat wave), we love having the Crane's nearby.  They are our little piece of Texas and we love having them around.