I’m reading The Mothers by Brit Bennet at the moment.
There’s a beautiful quote about loss in there.
“But Aubrey just squeezed her hand because she too understood loss, how it drove you to imagine every possible scenario that might have prevented it.”
And man did this quote strike a chord with me.
Though with time it’s happening less and less (which has been turly fulfilling to see), I still catch myself wondering what went wrong with Pete. What we could have done differently. The past few days there’s been one memory I keep going back to. Strangely it was during a really wonderful time for us. Pete’s family was visiting Portland for the first time. We went south to Crater Lake for a weekend. It was all of our first time.
We were exploring the park. We had visited the lodge and done some shopping. We went to the visitor’s center and saw the movie about Crater Lake. And then we were told the hike we planned on going on was still snowed off. It was June. But we were quickly redirected to another popular and not-too-challenging hike. Now we were going to climb down to the lake instead of up to the mountains.
The climb down was easy and fun. Pete, his brothers, and I went ahead.
I’m starting to realize now how much ease I find when hanging out with people younger than me. It’s like all this pressure I constantly find myself under is suddenly lifted.
Anyway, us younguns were ahead. The lake was beautiful. Truly the most beautiful site I’ve ever seen. The lake is an astounding shade of blue that’s almost hard to process as a natural color.
When we got to the bottom we saw people were jumping off this cliff into the lake.
I think Pete’s middle brother went first.
Then his dad.
Then, after some cojoling and convincing, his youngest brother jumped in accompanied by his dad.
Pete and his middle brother each went in again.
His middle brother may have jumped in a third time.
Something Pete always kept telling me when we were together was that he wanted us to create memories together. He was always urging me to do things that kind of scared me. And by always, I mean this summer. And any time I asked him why he was so persistent, he’d say “I want us to have shared memories.”
A couple days ago, for the first time I found myself thinking not about our fights or our misunderstandings or our quiet, tense evenings. I found myself not longing for our first few months together, or the first time we made up after a fight, or the ease of the comfort we forged together. I found myself, rather, thinking about Crater Lake. And wondering what would have happened if I had jumped in, accompanied by Pete, the way his youngest brother and father had done.
I let myself linger on that, dreamily, and then I let it go, thinking, maybe next time I’m at Crater Lake, I’ll take that leap.