Reclaiming Joy at Each Stop
Just before sunset, we found our way to state Route 168. We intended to visit North and South lakes, but dense snowfall barricaded the side roads. Instead, we pulled over to build a snowman and then joined people riding sleds in the middle of the woods.
There, I caught myself smiling — and I almost couldn’t believe it. Neither could I believe the joy I experienced later as we sat sipping local brews at Mountain Rambler Brewery in Bishop. And I savored the time Jeff and I spent in the thermal baths at Buckeye Hot Spring near Bridgeport.
I’d heard once from a therapist that creating new memories is the best way to heal from the pain of loss and to find your way forward from grief. The therapist was right.
The next day, when we stopped to pick up apple fritters at Erick Schat’s Bakkery in Bishop, tears began rolling down my cheeks. The bakery had been my dad’s favorite stop in the area, and my stomach churned as I told Jeff we would be driving past my dad’s crash site at Walt’s Point. I confessed that my greatest fear wasn’t the pain I might feel from my dad’s loss, but the potential that the hurt could drive away someone else precious in my life.
Jeff pulled me into a compassionate hug and told me I was brave for sharing the truth. A few hours later, as we drove past the crash site, I could tell he was trying to read my expression. I took a deep breath, squeezed his hand, and told him I was OK. Perhaps, just like a mountain that looms in the darkness, my father remains with me, though unseen.
This new revelation brings me comfort.