I stand alone at the trailhead, surveying the caution signs. I can almost feel the claws of the cougar slicing my shoulders; hear the swarm of killer African bees swirling about my face. Fear. Pain. Death.
For over two years I have stumbled in uncertainty and despair, chased by memories ripping a hole in my heart. And then one day, my mother offered her arm and we walked side-by-side to experience life in the desert. And death.
"We choose those memories which accompany us," she said. Joy or heartache. Serenity or agony. All will undoubtedly touch us. But we choose our life’s companions.
I finger the camera in my hand, reflecting on her words. Before me, the lime green branches of the palo verde tree provide protection to a young barrel cactus and the abundant yellow blossoms of the creosote bush line the path. I can almost see Lady tugging at her leash, excited to explore the treasures of the desert; feel the loving presence of my dad on one side, my mother’s nurturing spirit on the other. As I begin my journey up the mountain, I am finally at peace.
I choose finally to be at peace.
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