Debra S's ADC
Mother’s Day Trail Message
Mother’s Day 2006
The first Mother’s Day without our son, Clint, was approaching. He had passed away the summer before, but the weight of grief was still heavy. So far we had made it through each day by taking one slow, encumbered step at a time. Each morning for several weeks prior to the upcoming holiday, I began to notice a small sports-type car parked near my car in the parking garage at work. Apparently, it was parked there on a long- term basis because it started to gather dust. After a while, the thick dust became a target for graffiti- some of which was amusing and some was distasteful. One was even a negative message to a mother. Despite the fact I did not appreciate some of the comments written on the car, it reminded me of Clint and the activities of young people. The car remained there unmoved and untouched day after day. Considering the anxiety of the impending holiday, I did not give the car too much thought.
When the dreaded Mother’s Day arrived, my husband, Alan and I decided a hike to the top of one of our favorite peaks in the nearby national park. We had been avid hikers, but now even the simplest activity seemed to take more effort and energy than we had. We have had some adventures on our hikes, but this time our only goal was to get past another painful holiday without our youngest son and perhaps to be tired enough to finally get a few hours of peaceful sleep that night.
Just as we arrived in the trail parking area, approximately 35 miles from our home, we decided to take a different route to the top of the trail than the one originally planned. After several hours of uphill hiking, our bodies were beginning to feel the aches and pains. We were beginning to doubt we could even make it to the top because we knew this was not an easy hike. Then we came upon the following message written in large letters in the dirt, Happy Mom’s Day, Love From Your Sons. I was taken aback and my heart began to beat a little faster. I thought, “Could this be for me?” The rest of the hike my thoughts bounced between belief and disbelief. I could not remember Clint using the words Mom’s Day instead of Mother’s Day, but it would be like him to shorten it. Another point that raised doubt in my mind was the signature of sons instead of son. Then I thought to myself, “After all I do have two sons, perhaps Clint had included his brother in the message.” I had a point and counter-point for each thought. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before. I thought to myself, “I don’t want to miss a message from my son. But on the other hand, I don’t want to seem like a foolish old woman.” I pondered many thoughts. I could not imagine who else could have left the message, because we had started hiking early and had not encountered any other hikers. Also, none of our family members or friends knew where we were hiking that day.
With little discussion about the message, we continued on our way to the top. Once there, we had our lunch. Inside the fire tower, someone had left a book about the area in memory of his or her family and others had turned the book into a journal for recording messages. We left our own little message and cleaned up our lunch items. On a clear day, this hike offers some spectacular views, but this was an overcast day. A little disappointed by the lack of views, we started down the trail. Just then the clouds parted and the sun came out. For that brief time, we enjoyed God’s beautiful handiwork displayed by nature. The cloud cover returned and silently we hiked back to our car somewhat contented and exhausted. Yet, the nagging doubt of the message still remained in my mind.
When we arrived home that evening, we found a card in the mailbox from a friend of Clint’s. The sweet and thoughtful friend had written on the outside of the envelope, “Happy Mom’s Day.” This touched me deeply. I thought, “Could this be my confirmation? Was the use of Mom’s Day instead of Mother’s Day a sign?” The rest of the weekend my thoughts continued to bounce. I wanted the trail message to be for me, but how could I be sure?
Time does not stop for grief and a new workweek began. As I pulled into the parking garage and started to swipe my entry card, I had the quick thought, “If the message along the trail really was for me, the distasteful messages on the car would be gone because I shouldn’t pick and choose which messages are for me.” I park in a large multi-level parking garage, so at this point I could not see the dusty message-laden car. As I turned the corner and continued on, I chuckled to myself about my absurd thoughts. “Of course the distasteful messages would still be there and the whole weekend was just filled with coincidences.”
As I got closer I could see the car was still there, but to my shock all the writing on the car had been wiped cleaned. It did not appear to have been moved or washed, but it had been cleared of any writing. I had not said anything to anyone about the car or my thoughts, not even my husband. So I smiled, wiped away the tears, and enjoyed the warm feeling of connection. I joyfully thought to myself as I walked into work that morning, “Okay, I get it. The message on the trail WAS for me.” For a while that day, the burden of grief would be a little lighter.