Why, I ask, am I here? In your living years you asked me to go to Sun Valley with you and your family many times. I never did. Why…Look at the name, “SUN” Valley. I knew it would be hot. You know I don’t like the heat. Or hiking, biking, running, tennis, any number of other things to do in Sun Valley…any kind of exercise really. I never could figure out why you wanted me to go. Probably to share the price of the condo?
But here I am, in Sun Valley. Hiking. In the sun. Not in your living years. Why? To help spread your energy in this place you lived, laughed, loved. I wanted to be part of this…I really did, but I did not want to hike to Baker Lake. Before you left us I asked if you would want part of yourself to be taken to Yellowstone. That I could do, I can drive there. No hiking required. But no, you just wanted to be left at Baker Lake.
I was not sure I could do this hike. I came, but I expected to either wait at the house for everyone to get back…or maybe try to hike but stop part way and read will everyone came down. A couple of days before the hike I had a dream. In the dream we were trying to get you up a river bank. We laughed so hard because you kept making jokes using one liners like “with a little help from my friend” or “lean on me”. The whole dream was pulling you, and laughing so hard we would fall back down, in the mud. I woke up laughing. You motivated me to do try the hike I was dreading so much.
I talked to you as I hiked, relived memories, and I cursed you a few times. I really don’t like to hike. Give me strength to finish Steve. Why in the hell did you choose this place? Remember when you took me to college with you? How about our joke when you would call me on the phone and ask me “Who is this?” Another fly just bit me, thanks Steve. I miss the way you tell a story, the way you giggle. I hope you know how much I love you, look, I am hiking for you. The dream of you laughing was such a precious gift. Help me finish this hike. I hope I brought as much joy to your life as you brought to mine, still bring to mine. I miss you, really I do, but this lake better be worth it. Was that another fly?
The hike was worth it, eventually. And the lake was beautiful. I took many breaks to catch my breath but I didn’t mind stopping so many times. Each pause surrounded me with butterflies. And huge biting flies, which I tried to ignore. There were butterflies, everywhere. When I finally got to the lake I imagined you would have giggled a little at how long it took me. Not a giggle to mock me. But still a giggle. Bec and Polly said you would have been proud of me for finishing the hike. That was interesting to think about. I don’t know if I ever made you proud. Were you as proud to be my brother as I was to be your sister? That would give me something to think about on the way down…which also took me awhile.
Leaving you at Baker Lake fitted. You will be at peace, forever fishing. As Ken went out on the lake to spread your ashes there were times he almost looked like you. I hope you were with all of us as we wrote our messages to you on rocks and tossed them in the lake to forever with you. I hope you heard Maddie’s song to you, it was perfect. There were many people there to send you off, and many more that wanted to come. In your quiet way you had a huge impact on so many. The generosity of Polly, Kellen and Maddie is amazing. To let us all share this moment with them.
I did not like Sun Valley. I am glad I went though as I got to know more about you. Polly pointed out all the things you guys would do here. I was struck again with how much you truly and completely lived. In your living years, short as they were, you lived life more fully than most people will do in several lifetimes. Even the days you said good-bye to everyone were full of laughter and living.
In the living years without you, I will try to never forget the life and energy within you. I will always try to make the most of my living years.