More than a picnic….

The lightness of the air as I stepped off the plane immediately brings a smile to my face.

The familiarity of this airport, and the nostalgia for this area is welcoming, and haunting all at once.

Memories cascade in of running a little girl up and down the corridors at high speed, brown curls blowing in the breeze, face all aglow, and giggles and shrieks for all to hear.

Her wheelchair was her legs, and her pilot was usually one of her brothers’ Zach or Logan.

They would race her so fast, often rounding the corners on one wheel, while passers by looked on in alarm.. and wondered if there were any adults supervising this rather openly obvious  impending accident.

Nope… it was just me… and I was giggling just watching … and observing… what’s the worst that could happen after all?… the wheelchair tips, and she gets a scrape, and ends up.. in well.. a wheelchair?

That girl loved speed and laughter, and most things that were irreverent.

In her class at the local high school she would laugh, when her fellow classmate, who was on the autism spectrum would yell in discontent… she smiled.. which was funny…so not appropriate, but still kinda  funny.

She liked it when people made funny noises.. and we often did.  we lived to entertain her truth be told.

I would cluck like a chicken, crow like a rooster, hee haw like a donkey, moo like a cow, and neigh like a horse.. those were good times..

We performed for her, and she could be a tough critic if she was in a mood. We had to up our game, and when desperate measures presented themselves, we would switch on Veggie Tales, which she was unable to resist..

I mean…..

” if you want to talk to a tomato, if a squash can make you smile…”

Brilliant lyrics… she liked singing veggies… what’s not to like?

It was June 10.  I try to be here where she lived on her birthday. She would have been 21 years old…

People tell me that they sometimes panic because they feel as if they can’t remember their loved ones voice, or smell, or laugh… I get it.

Things that were once so familiar, and welcome, feel on the peripheral of your memory now. It seems like the more desperate you are to remember, the dustier the thought becomes, and there are cobwebs that appear, where once it was fresh and flowing air.. things can feel stagnant, and stayed.

My friend Laura picked me up from the airport, and we ventured north towards the cemetery.

The sky was Colorado blue, and gorgeous, with a temperature of 72, and the majestic, and always awe inspiring Rockies flanked  the West horizon which opened up to the plains, and greeted me like wide and expansive arms.  I ached to be held in those majestic arms.

It was good to be back… it feels like.. home. It was for over 20 was a great place to live….

Laura and I chatted like chickens enroute, and we stopped as I picked up some daisies, and a red rose bush and garden spade.

She suggested having a picnic atop her grave, which we have done before, and I thought this was a brilliant suggestion.

I have described before how her resting place is one of my most favorite and hated places to be. I don’t think I need to elaborate on these thoughts.. it hurts like mad, and comforts… a dichotomy of thought and feelings that are ever converging and diverging in my conscientiousness.

My friend Jeri explained to me later on that day how much she loved butterflies. They are fascinating creatures. I had not known that a caterpillar and a butterfly have completely different DNA. They are the same creature that has transformed, and yet they are different.

Another friend pointed out to  me  that the one side of her grave stone shows the butterfly in its infancy, and larvae stage, where the right of the grave stone depicts her ascension to flight, beauty, and all she was created to be..

She is able to fly, unhindered by a wheelchair, and limbs that would not cooperate with her.

We laid the towels down, and Laura had outdone herself. There were olives with goat cheese, multi colored carrots, garlic hummus, crackers, a roast chicken, and of course raspberries, which we plopped into our crisp white wine, so we could toast our girl.

If you haven’t tried a cemetery picnic with your dearly departed, I highly recommend it.

I have always had a slightly warped sense of humor, so it’s no surprise to me that all of my children seem to have it too. Humor is a great coping mechanism. Our family used to laugh … a lot.. I’m glad for that, and grateful.

“Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you’ve never been hurt and live like it’s heaven on earth.” Mark Twain

Bianca was a ” joy maker.” I’ve studied a lot about joy, and what makes us feel true joy..and more importantly… what makes it last.

I’ve come to realize it’s a state of being.. existing.. it stems from gratitude to the life you have been given, even in the most difficult of circumstances, it can be found, and lived in. It does not have to be elusive… but you do have to do one crucial thing…

“Let things go.. let expectations go.. surrender to the process of your uniqueness in the space where you reside..this body is the place where you live, and whatever shape or limitations that you have, you have intrinsic value, and joy is within you.. To allow it to bubble forth, is to heal..” (JDH)

Being able to share my stories and thoughts in words has helped my heart grow in ways I never could have even imagined. It is cleansing, and unburdening to realize that speaking out loud emotions to another lightens the load that accumulates on my back… it is released, and this feels healthy.

I love picnics.. because they are unexpected… stepping on the soft cool grass, and digging my toes in deep, then laying down on a blanket underneath a fern tree with a friend, after a shared meal… and just being… that is joy.

It is such a privilege to share our stories with one another. We are not alone.. and that is good.

Long’s Peak looms large, and the summit seems to crest the sky, and the front range protectively shields the monstrous backdrop like a formidable band of soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder at the ready.

This image has always spoken to me of the power of God.  It takes my breath away as I view its majesty and strength, and I feel surrounded out here on the plains.

There are mountains to climb, and there are many who physically do this, but how many of us have these mountains in our own lives, that seem insurmountable, and jagged, and irregular..and unattainable?

The way the peaks point their necks to the heavens giving worship and homage to their creator points me to Psalm 91…

“He that dwells in the secret place of the most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I will trust. Surely he will deliver me from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust. His truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid of the terror by night nor for the arrow that flieth by day nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness nor for the destruction that wastest at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is thy refuge, even the most High thy habitation there shall no evil befall thee , neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because He has set his love upon me , therefore will I deliver him I will set him on high, because he has known my name. He shall call upon me and I will answer him I will be with him in trouble I will deliver him, and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.”

” Buried hope,” that was Jesus when he died on the cross, and was put into a tomb, but death was not even enough to hold him. There was nothing that could keep him back, that hope came alive in 3 days, and it will never be still in the darkness again.

Hope is trimphant….the resurrection gave us the ultimate gift… a miracle, there is more beyond the grave.. much more..

There are also road trips… for now.. with friends, and these are adventures, and a clearing away of the debris that can weigh us down. It’s the open road, and the leaving behind the fragments of yesterday.

Even when you don’t want to put one foot in your tennis shoe, followed by the other because your present circumstances feel altogether too heavy, the releasing of your thoughts to another is such a gift.

But there is also the road trip food. You start out all healthy, with raw unsalted nuts, water of course for hydration, and you intend to be diligent, but after a few potty breaks, and gas fill ups, you get a hankering for true road food.

Red licorice of course, maybe some salt and vinegar chips, perhaps sunflower seeds in the salted shell, and if there is any chocolate about… then.. of course.. bring it…

It could be a Thelma and Louise kind of day… and Bianca would like that…

7 thoughts on “More than a picnic….

  1. So lovely Jill…as I too board a plane for yet another funeral today! So funny that when I was going to date Ernie, here was my acid test…I told him, ‘get used to it, I have picnics ‘and reunions’ at grave yards!’ Tregarva especially (u know that one, out on another plain!! The PRAIRIES!). To my surprise, it didn’t weird him out at all, he said “I too like visiting my grandparents at the (St Thomas) cemetery”!!! A keeper! And I married him! It’s very much time to see thee face to face again, upon your return! God IS good all the time, we live His goodness ‘all the time’!


    1. I like the litmus test you had for Ernie!.. thank you for sharing that.. my Dad as well loved to go through lots of graveyards.. I used to think it was weird… but now I really get it.. it’s their last space where you saw them, and you ache to be closer to them… thank you for the time you have spent with Mum… I’m so grateful for you❤️… safe travels..


      1. O it’s a Hayhoe thing for sure…Uncle Jim still does that…preaches gospels on it too!! I remember at your dad’s burial…I think it was your Uncle Alan speaking and referring to ‘Ernest Hayhoe’s’ grave just down the row. That he was the last (and 1st) cousin to be buried in the family, so many years ago, yet it was still so present in everyone’s hearts! Grave yards are our reality and our history! But not the end, also our victory!!!


  2. This was an exquisite post! You say everything that is in my heart, but those well chosen words, in that order, don’t come to me, exactly. You are such a beautiful writer and I am grateful that you read my heart and mind and express it on paper. Bianca and Jamie would definitely have been friends. I love you very much. Thank you.


  3. Ahh dear Amy, I definitely agree with you. Our girls would have been friends for sure, and they are now for sure. I feel so connected to you, and am so grateful that our paths crossed when they did. I glean comfort from your words, and I’m ecstatic if I can do the same for you😄❤️.. thank you, and love you too


  4. I so enjoy this…remembering through your words is especially poignant. I remember having Bianca near when I heard the song, “I can only imagine…” And I think of her dancing along that heavenly river each time I hear it. Seeing and talking with Bianca is one of my heavenly hopes…with you by my side, dear friend.


  5. Bobette, you and Darren were so generous to look after her when Lorin and I needed to get away for some vacay/ respite time together. I’ll never forget your main kindnesses yo is, and how our lives were enriched by being with all of your family. I love this image you have of her walking along the River . I can’t wait … and “ I can only imagine..”… love you.. ❤️


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