Angels are aware.

I'm sorry. I know after two years people really expect you to just get on with it, but let me tell you something about grief. It is absolutely unpredictable. It's a twisting, dipping, winding, rolling road that goes through forests and valleys and over hills and through dark tunnels and you honestly never know what's around that next bend. I'll be sailing along a nice, easy straight-a-way, thinking that maybe life is going to start getting a little easier, a little more joyful, maybe even a little normal again when suddenly, out of the blue, I'll hit a huge sink-hole and darned if I don't just drop straight down into it and smash myself up all over again.
Last weekend I got hit by a perfect storm, a trifecta of flu, jet-lag and the longing for having the kids gathered near for General Conference as a family, and thwack! I was suddenly under the dank, dismal gloom of aching for my boy again--as dark a gloom as in those early weeks after his death. But here's the thing. Somehow (well, I do know how: prayer is a very good thing) heaven heard my anguish and through a series of seemingly unrelated events, which began way last July, I received some email that brought me buckets of tears and then relief and smiles. So, here--because angels should be acknowledged--are the most recent emails from that string:
On Oct 6, 2009, at 4:03 PM, [R.A.] wrote:
Hi Annie, I'm glad the post got to you. I've been wanting to write something for a while. Cluttered in between bills and old homework from college dorm...and now my apartment...are all my failed attempts. Gavin, L___, and I were all Sinagua's, but then the guys and girls walked separate. We talked the entire ride up, there was a pouting young walker in the back whom I don't quite remember. Gavin did try to cheer him up. After that he talked to Laura and I and told me the mountains were "weak sauce" and that the mountains we were seeing were small. Gavin was cool. I think of him from time to time, when I hike, but especially when I see bright orange powdered cheese. I just finished eating a dinner of lentils & mac & cheese. I don't think I've ever seen anyone so excited to see anything in my life. He was so excited and talked about all the good things that you could make with it. He told Laura and I you could make cheese go farther by adding the powdered milk. He was a great person, so cool. I looked up to him instantly. You can write to me anytime you want. [R.A]
On Tue, Oct 6, 2009 at 6:19 PM, Annie Link <annielink@mac.com> wrote:
Thanks Renee,
This made me smile. I still remember how excited he was to cook for his dad and I when we went out to meet him on the trail the first time he walked. He really got into the food and was actually a good cook. His pizza was excellent. He made great ash cakes, too. (Hearing about lentils and mac and cheese made me smile too. I still have his black cooking/eating cup.)
It sounds just like him to have tried to cheer up the young walker. He was always, all about everyone else's happiness. In Hawaii, on Sundays, he used to gather up homeless guys on the beach and make sure they got a good meal and got to go to church if they wanted to. he'd drive them to wherever their specific religion met. just wanted to make sure they knew that someone cared. he was worried about many of them because he felt like they had mental handicaps and really didn't have any other options but homelessness. He was easy to look up to. He had such an honest, good heart. He sincerely loved people. All people.
Anyway, thanks for taking the time to share your memories. I think of him whenever I hike, too. I'll bet he's found some great hikes in heaven. Wish I could share them with him.
I hope you're doing well in your world. That you love the people in your life and are having happy times. Thanks again for writing.
It's crazy how much it helps.
Hi again Annie, I wanted to mention this. You talk about him loving everyone, its very true. I didn't know that about him and all the good work he did Hawii...but I could totally see it being true. Anyway, out of all the people he loved you most of all. He told Laura and I about the phone call he made as a YW. He hiked and hiked just to find a phone. He wanted to let you know he was ok, make sure you were ok and to tell you that he loved you. I didn't really appreciate this until I was on the trail. At best he didn't have much to eat, he didn't have great supplies, he probably had icky water. And it was far. According to trail lore he walked 50 miles. I'm sure it gets farther and farther every year. He wanted to be in that place again. Not 50 miles off trail, but close to you. I think thats part of the reason I've remember him so often. I'm sure you already know that...I'm sure you've heard the story a million times. But I think he's still the only one who's ever done that. It is a story for legends, told around the campfire, the hearts of the young walkers, and Sinagua, turned to home, wishing they could be so brave. Perhaps they don't know his name, but the story is told and told....and as long as their's Anasazi, it will be told forever. [R.A]

So, there you have it. All of you who wonder how in the world you could ever possibly offer comfort to someone who's grieving:
It's really quite simple after all. Just follow those quiet promptings and do whatever your heart whispers to do.
And even if all you can come up with to talk about is lentils and dried cheese, believe me, it will be enough.


Gretchen said...

I am so happy that there are those that will keep Gavin's memory strong for you. He truly was a gift and how precious that Natalie's youngest will bear his name. I know how your heart aches and you should know that it is your example that has given me strength to go on.
Love, Gretchen

shelly said...

Thank you so much for always sharing, Annie. It's what I love most about you. You don't know how deeply YOU touch others by sharing what touches you. The fifth anniversaries of my mom and dad's passing are coming up and I often think of how alone we all feel in our grief. It feels like it was yesterday - yet an eternity ago.

I always feel like you are my warm blanket...

shelly said...

Oh! I forgot to mention that I was going through a box in my garage yesterday and came upon an envelope Natalie had sent me long ago, and it had some pictures of Gavin in Hawaii -- a couple of he and Heather, a couple with Erik, and some of he and Richie. I have a feeling you probably already have them, but maybe not. I'll copy them for you if you'd like. Raleigh looked like he was about 1.

lyn. said...

Annie, did you know that I was a survival instructor for BYU when they still had the program, ages ago? It was started by Larry Olsen and Zeke Sanchez, but I never actually knew them.

I know that BYU's 480 had different components than Anasazi, but the result were very much the same. I also have my blackened eating and cooking can from my student trip.

I guess that what I want to say is that reading the correspondence between you and Renee about Gavin brought back fond memories and yet another connection to someone I know and love only through the power of the internet...

Annie said...

lyn. :) I can absolutely see you out on the trail. It's a very good fit. I'm glad we're friends.

Annie said...

And Shelly- I always think of you during October when the weather starts hedging between sun and showers like it was the day of your sweet mom's funeral. In my mind, October is your mom and dad's month. It's a love story month.
You must miss them terribly at times. You'll be in my prayers.

Annie said...

Oh! And I'll ADORE any photos you have!!

Valerie said...

How special that someone took the time to write that simple note to you. And thanks for teaching others (me included) what we can do to help or say. I'm sure there are people who expect you to "get over it", but I can't see how you would. Even with your knowledge that you'll see him again, he isn't here now and you grieve for his presence and what could have been. I do hope you have more easy days than hard ones!

I'm Natalie. said...

I love you mom! I'm sorry you've had a tough month. :(

wfc said...

I was organizing my blogs and thought I would see if you really did stop blogging. I was happy to see that you are still writing. I totally relate to what you are saying. We have a family blog and I keep promising my kids that I will move on from Bryce but then something happens and I want to share it. I continue to have flashbacks and stark reminders that are unexpected. It is always the unexpected that throws you. I was in Primary minding my own business when my co-teacher leaned over and tapped her son that was being talkative. I had very clear flash backs of scenes of Bryce and all the times that I called him on the carpet to be quiet, pay attention, sing, etc. in church. The tears flowed and when we sang a certain Primary song, I just had to hug my co worker and say...I've got to leave. I walked home and wondered...how did that happen? I am learning that this is going to be a part of my life from now on. I am grateful that my days are happy and I feel like me again but I still have those moments and I am sure I bore my other kids to tears at times. I never get tired of talking about Bryce. If you ever get time to tell me about Gavin and what happened, it would be appreciated. I totally am grateful each time someone just writes about or posts a picture of my honey. Much love to you, Wynette

Damaris said...

Found you through Natalie's blog. I've been reading a blog called The Sphord are Multiplying. The author recently lost her baby girl, it's so so sad.

I really admire you for sharing your experience. Thanks for doing that