in august, i went on an overnight waterfall adventure to celebrate my life with atlas.
it turned out to be the perfect sort of adventure.
at one point, i got part-way down the trail to a waterfall only to find step after step after step. atlas was not a fan of steps, especially in his later years.
and atlas was right there with me. i could feel him! i could feel his presence.
then, i could see him. he was laughing. i heard him say, “you wouldn’t have gotten me down those steps!”
that’s why the adventure was perfect. it was typical: spontaneous & unplanned & not well thought out at all.
atlas would go along happily – he was game for almost anything – until he decided he was done, and then nothing i could do would convince him otherwise.
when i reached black river harbor, i had to walk across a suspension bridge to get to lake superior. it was a hot evening and i had hiked to a few waterfalls already and i really wanted to jump in the lake.
as i walked across the bridge, there was atlas again. he laughed & said, “you know if i were there, you wouldn’t get to the lake!”
because oh, did atlas dislike bridges. he liked to feel the solid ground under his feet. if i absolutely made him go on a bridge, even a floating bridge, he would lie down and belly crawl until i finally took pity on him.
again, so typical.
as i jumped in the lake that evening, i had a huge smile on my face and my heart was full of joy.
joy from the swim in my beloved lake.
joy from the memories of my beloved pup.
but even as i celebrated my life with atlas, there was a moment on the trail during which i realized that there was another reason i took myself on an adventure.
my grampa died in december. atlas died in june. my grama was dying (she died two days later, the morning after i got back). most of my time for the past three years had been spent with the three of them. now, they were all gone or going.
in that moment on the trail, i realized that i had spent so much time sitting with death, watching death come closer & closer, that this was my way of reminding myself that i was still very much alive.