The first lyrics I heard today on my iPod as I took off for my walk/run–it’s more of a walk than a run in high altitudes–were hard times come and hard times go.
Simple, yet profoundly true.
Once again, Gail, Suzanne and I Marched Forth today, for the fifteenth time. It has been that long since we said goodbye to our parents. I’m not sure how that much time slipped away, but it did. Time, however, as most of us know, is a healing balm. It has been for us, too.
Once again, without Suzanne, Gail and I Marched Forth as we went west into the beautiful splendor of the Rocky Mountains to celebrate their lives, not their deaths. Suzanne gives us her blessing to go, but it is never the same without her. It has been almost seven years since our epic beach trip that was chronicled in the first installation of this blog, and we all know it is time again for another one soon. Stay tuned.
We were welcomed by our favorite innkeepers in grand style, as usual.
I’m pretty sure it comes down between our visits, but it was on the wall in our room when we arrived.
Bonnie and Judy joined us on this trip again, as they typically do when it is just Gail and I.
I found Bonnie and Judy at a garage sale. I knew the sale hostess, and she said they were sisters as well. If you look close at their faces, and use your imagination a bit, you can see younger versions of Gail and me. These statuettes are dated 1953 on the back.
Gail’s friends Margaret, Mary and Cin-Cin joined us too, just as they did two years ago. They bring guaranteed fun along each time, and this time was no different.
I have long wanted to return to the top of Pikes Peak via Cog Train on one of our trips, but since it reopened only last year after six years of repair and renovation, we hadn’t yet made it. I decided it was time again, and Mary, Cin-Cin and I made the trip. Gail and Margaret opted to stay back and enjoy the day in Cripple Creek.
It felt right to get as close as possible to Heaven today, March Fourth.
We boarded the 1:21pm train at the station. It was reported that Mom and Dad left us “about 1:30,” so it was the perfect time to begin our ascent as well.
The views were indescribable on the nine-mile trip as it climbed slowly at about eight mph. From the view below, the conductor told us the Kansas border was below those far clouds.
As I sat facing Mary and Cin-Cin looking backwards down the mountain out the window as we moved on forward, I decided it was time to break out the Dove chocolates I brought along, one for each of us. I doled out theirs, and opened mine.
Here’s your sign.
After about an hour of magnificent views, we arrived at the top. It was fifteen degrees, 25-30 mph winds with blowing snow. It was frigid cold, but incredible.
At 14,115 feet altitude, this was as close to Heaven as I would get on this earth today, this bittersweet-turned-sweet-bitter day. This filled me up in a way I couldn’t have imagined that I would ever feel again 15 years ago today. I felt whole. I wanted to stay and savor it, but a moment was all I needed. They were there.
Lest you failed to notice the split-pea-soup-green coat I am wearing, let me draw your attention to it and explain its significance.
A dear friend lost her older sister in Colorado on March 5th, the year after our parents died. She had a collection of vintage coats, and my friend bequeathed this one to me. I wanted to honor her sister as well today. I’m pretty sure she was there, too.
It was time to leave the summit, and head back down the mountain for another beautiful hour of mountain scenery.
We talked, laughed, ate, drank coffee and other libations, shopped, gambled, puzzled and savored each other’s company. Time passed too quickly as it always does, and Sunday morning arrived too soon, with its inevitable checkout, and return home.
Hard times do come and they do go, but so too, do the good times. The memories, however, are always there for the reverie, and if you do it right, they appreciate in value over time. I do agree with my Dove chocolate wrapper, but this kind of backward-looking is necessary to savor these good times. Just be sure to live life forward.
And whatever your hard times are, be sure to March Forth.
In loving memory of Mom and Dad, “Liz and Ed,” and T.E. They are always with us, no matter what the altitude.