I am sitting on the couch at home in Oakland after an emotional week traveling to and from Southern Oregon. Leading up to Isaiah’s birthday and two years after he passed away from an overdose, his mother and I wanted to do something meaningful to celebrate his life. After two years of isolation due to Covid-19, we felt like it was time to get out, and I thought it would be a good idea to retrace some of the hikes I did back in 2016 as part of our Drone Recovery summer. So, Audrey, Poppy, and I loaded up the car and drove up to Southern Oregon and eventually Northern California, which would end up being a very emotional and unexpected set of journeys in the woods, on the beach, and in our hearts.
I have stepped back and thought about this journey in five separate parts, writing about each portion of the journey as it’s own post, but then stepping even further back to consider our journey as a whole, and think a little bit about what it means for the future. While there was plenty of other parts of our journey, I felt like these five areas impacted me the post as we made our way through this challenging time in our life.
- Having the Strength to Power on Through - My work is a big part of my identity and focus right now, and has provided me with the few to get through everything we’ve been going through. I am very thankful for my career and the job I have right now, but it doesn’t come without it’s challenges as I try to navigate Isaiah, his mom’s grief, my health, and everything else that is Kin Lane. I entered the last couple of weeks with a lot of anxiety and I am leaving it feeling very confident and on solid ground when it comes to work and what I do as a person.
- Making it to the Top - Audrey, Poppy, and I hiked to the top of Kerby Peak this last week, making for a very emotional and physically challenging ascent up the 5500+ feet mountain. The weather didn’t comply and it was raining as we hiked to the peak and made for a very dark and windy summit, but it all just added to the catharsis of the moment. I was very thankful for being able to share this mountain with Audrey, and with Isaiah. It is a magical place, and it makes it even more magical to be able to connect Audrey with her son who has passed.
- What are we doing to Our Kids - We couldn’t make it up to the second hike I had planned for Audrey and I due to a forest fire that occurred the summer that Isaiah passed. Apparently the fire lookout station where Isaiah and I spent the day had burned, as well as miles of forest around it. With heavy hearts we made our way back down the mountain to another hike Isaiah and I had done to Babyfoot lake, which had also burned in 2002, but was slowly coming back to life. Providing a strange balance of destruction and healing that was very appropriate for our journey this week.
- Stop Taking the Long Way Around - After we left Southern Oregon we made our way to Crescent City in Northern California. A city that I purposefully take the long way around, but found myself re-evaluating years of stories and experiences I had of this beautiful city. We didn’t recreate any hikes I did with Isaiah for this portion of the journey, but spent the time unraveling my own baggage around the small town, while also setting in motion a bright future of walking California’s coastline.
- Thankful for My Girls - The highlight of this trip is really all the gratitude I have for my wife and my dog, and how they fill my days with joy and cookies, keeping me working on my own shit along the way. To same I am a fucking mess is understatement, and these two not only put up with me, they keep me in a perpetual state of wanting to unpack all of my baggage so I am a more well adjusted human being. I had so much fun with these two this week, and look forward to what is next.
I went into the last week an emotional mess and came out of in on much more solid ground. My mind is still processing everything that has happened, but overall the time on the road and trail has resulted in some very positive forward motion. There was so much that was unexpected this week, from the weather on Kerby Peak, to Bolan Lake being devastated by fire, but all of the unknown unknowns seemed to be exactly what was needed. I couldn’t argue with anything that unfolded this week, and even the tweaker zombies we saw roaming the streets of Ukiah seemed to be an acceptable part of the condition that is United States 2022.
I feel like I lost some serious baggage this week, but I also feel very somber about the state of this world, country, and Kin Lane. I am on solid footing because I have done a lot of emotional work over the last couple of weeks, on the tail end of a lot of mental and conversational work as part of my job. I feel healthy, sane, and most importantly able to deal with my upcoming calendar, and the state of things in the good ol US of A. Now I am ready for that book project I need to finish, all the various needs of my 25 team members, and to hear the results of the liver ultrasound I had before this journey started. I feel like Audrey and I are properly responding to the current state of things at work and in the world, but also when it comes to our grief around Isaiah.
Kerby Peak very much represents our struggles with Isaiah for me moving forward. It is beautiful, intense, hard, brutal, and totally worth it, which I think sums up Isaiah, Audrey, Poppy, and I very much. Experiencing a week of the “hard done by” life where I grew up this week as I was working to process what happened in Uvalde, Texas, providing what I need to keep fighting this good fight emotionally. The destructive and backwards reality that leads us perpetually to these mass shootings around the country is on full display when you drive through Southern Oregon, and working my way through it with such an emotionally raw heart this week has given me some new energy to use when making sense of all this madness that is so uniquely American.
OK, I am sure I’ll have lots more thoughts out of this weekend, but I feel content about this journey within this moment. I am excited about the seeds that were planted in this journey. Most notably that we will be returning to Kerby Peak to celebrate the kid every year, but also our discovery of the California Coastal Commission and the trail system they are building from Oregon to Mexico (they have an API ;-). I feel like these two seeds are going reap major rewards when it comes to the health and well being of our future selves. I feel like this trip was a major test of whether or not Audrey and I are going to be OK after the kids passing, and not only are we going to be alright, but the future holds some very compelling opportunities for growth, all coming from such a tragic set of circumstances that shaped Isaiah’s time on this earth.