Colorado’s on fire and I’m feeling fine

July 4th marked the five-month anniversary of my Dad’s death.

Since February, I’ve been living in this foggy haze that’s insulated me from the outside world. I could still notice beauty and experience a full range of emotions, but nothing really soaked in. It hit the surface and stayed where I could see it, touch it, but not really feel it.

For a while, it was easy to push through this and maintain forward momentum. But then, I got laid off from my job and sprained my ankle (while temporarily uninsured). Just like that, I was utterly stationary.

For the first time in…my life?, I allowed myself to just be. I went inward and thought about the painful things I’ve been pushing aside. I didn’t write any personal stuff. I read in a hammock, biked around town in my orthopedic boot, and cried when I needed to.

After four weeks, a routine started falling back into place. A great new job found me. My ankle healed up. I started to come out of the haze.

Luke and I decided to cash in some credit card points and fly out to Colorado the week of July 4th. We didn’t really have a plan aside from making our way southwest from Denver to Durango.

Why go to Durango when it’s literally on fire, you ask? Because I read it’s a cool town and wanted to see it for myself. We filled in the week with two national park visits, a stop in Telluride and some time with family and friends in Denver.

This was a fairly standard “small” trip for us: last-minute, largely unplanned and a little too aggressive for most people’s liking. However, this time, the haze moved out of my head and into the early morning air, as forest fires raged through nearby mountain ranges.

I felt deep, rich moments of poignancy like I used to.

I felt it when looking down into a 2,000-foot-deep valley in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

I felt it again as I sat on a fallen tree trunk and dangled my feet into the ice-cold mountain stream flowing out of Mt. Sneffels near Telluride.

I even had some “terrible fun” hauling Fat Al (my swollen ankle) up the side of a mountain in search of a waterfall.

Things will never be the same as they were before this winter. But I’m coming back to me. Slowly, but surely.

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