I arrived in Colorado Thursday to clear skies and the faint remains of Denver’s first significant snow of the season. I had forgotten how beautiful this state is. As we drove north of the city, I remembered a trip long ago — two trips, really — one to Aspen, the other to Vail and Beaver Creek. We are never far from the mountains here, from the red rocks and the pines and the deer that wander at will through the fields and the horses that graze in the pastures of this mountain community where I am staying with dear friends.
In the morning, we sip coffee and marvel at the view of downtown Denver, tiny little pillars in the far distance. At night we drink wine in front of the fire and watch the snow pile up on the deck outside the living room windows. This weekend has been all about recovery, but not the physical kind. This morning my son told me over the phone, “Mom, you deserve this. After the year you’ve had, you really needed a vacation without me and without car shows.” Still, he wants to know all about the Range Rover and how it handles in the snow. “Did you drive in snow mode yet?” he asks, wondering in the next breath if we will have the chance to try out the car’s rock climbing mode.
I am far here from the events of this past year, but it is only because of those events, because of what we’ve gained and not lost, that I am able to make this trip. I am in awe of how truly capable and independent my son has become. When I spoke to him yesterday, he was doing laundry and cleaning his room. When I first broached the subject of this trip, both he and my husband insisted that I go. No questions asked, it was a seize the moment kind of thing, something that might not have come about so easily or smoothly before the lessons of this last year. Surviving cancer teaches us that life is short and wildly unpredictable. “Just do it,” is my son’s new mantra.
It’s my new blonde hair and the confidence now to know I can be a good wife and mother, but still take the time and make the effort to do the things that nourish my soul. I’ve learned that my family needs me, but I don’t have to manage every bit of their everything. They can and should do things on their own and in their own way. I see our future in a new light, through the lens of real possibility, of hope, and even second chances. I am not content to wait. I am alive and I want to live a big, messy, beautiful life.
And so this weekend I walked into the arms of a dear friend and her family. There is history here that is solid and real and still impossible to put into words. It is family and it is home — the kind that has nothing to do with geography.
Tomorrow afternoon I will be back home in NY. I will walk into the waiting arms of my husband and son. And in this season of gratitude, I will know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I have everything I need. And I will whisper a quiet word of thanks for the life I have been given.