As Leslie and I hiked up the path that she had once been tied up and forced to hike up in healed boots, we kept looking ahead almost expecting this ghost of a boogeyman to pop out of nowhere. She kept saying, “It’s like a ghost town…or dream. Surreal to be here again.”
Then she stopped. “Oh my gosh!”
My head still caught in the ‘spookiness’ of the moment, my heart picked up pace quickly. “What? What’s wrong?”
“Look at that, it’s a sign.” She looked at me and I thought she might cry.
There in the middle of dirt, twigs, and burnt lumber from a past forest fire was a small spring bloom. Neither of us know what it is, very well could be a weed, but it didn’t matter. It was beauty in the ashes.
“I have to leave something here.” And she explained what she wanted to do. Now it was me who couldn’t stop the tears. I had her explain for you all:
Once she put the charm in it’s resting place we held hands and said a prayer for the other survivors that were with her for that horrific week, as well as for all survivors who are currently struggling to take their life back, and for those that have yet to go through the struggle, that they will know the warmth and comfort of God’s peace despite the horror of the situation.
Once this was done we started walking a bit more up the mountain and then we heard a rustle.
“I’m done,” she said. And we both booked it back down the path, laughing along the way. We weren’t scared but we weren’t stupid either.
We celebrated with lunch, shopping and later that evening a fantastic meal at the Twin Lakes Lodge with my parents, Tim & Judy McGraw, who had been gracious hosts the entire four days.
It was a successful trip and one I am honored to have been a part of with Leslie. I pray what you take from Leslie’s example is not so much shoving, stuffing, or ignoring your past, but about facing it, acknowledging it, and giving yourself credit for surviving it…and then move on to thrive.