Three weeks before Nick died we made plans. So many plans.
“You guys have to come to the ranch with us; you will love it.”
I heard Shanda talk about “The Ranch” multiple times. I was always intrigued by the idea of it. She always told me how beautiful, comforting, and peaceful it is. I always wanted to go, and we planned to…
but plans changed.
I remember a conversation between one of the Harper brothers and Nick about Nick and his friends possibly staying at the Ranch if they went sledding around the area. This conversation only came to me today. I can’t even remember if the conversation was between Harper and me or if it was between him and Nick, all I remember is Nick saying, “talk to your buddy, see if we can stay there.”
I never did.
All these plans. All these “we should go” conversations. How Nick never ended up taking a trip to this ranch is a perfect example of life getting in the way.
Fast forward a few years later, and I have the conversation with a different Harper brother. “We should go to the ranch soon and work on FMR,” I said.
Next weekend it is. The plan was made.
Over the last year, I have learned that it’s those moments you don’t anticipate that hit you the most. It’s that moment driving out to the ranch looking at the gorgeous mountains, and then a rainbow appears. Not just any rainbow. This rainbow was a sign from Nick that he was coming with us. Shanda and I both felt it so much so that we had to pull over and take a picture. It hit me right in the feelers, and this was the beginning of my weekend cleanse.
Tears on top of tears on top of tears.
People often wonder why I often choose to do things by myself. Why I have chosen to spend a lot of the milestones since Nick’s death alone. Right from the beginning, I have felt extreme anxiety when I am in a situation where I don’t have a space to take refuge. You truly never know when something is going to trigger your grief and I find it so much easier to be alone so when this happens I can be free to feel and do whatever it is I need to do to get me through that moment.
I have also learned to enjoy and be comfortable with my own company and this is something I am so grateful for.
We arrived at the ranch. It was everything I imagined except for one thing.
I had just finished a tour with one of the sweetest little gal’s I had ever met. She showed me all the rooms. Grandma’s room, the kid’s room, and the big window out the front of the house. There was fog, it was raining, but the window was like looking at a gorgeous painting. This mountain hidden behind the fog spoke to me in a way I was not expecting.
I sat down on the couch in the living room, and I looked out that window, and it hit me.
“Nick would have loved this place. This ranch would have reminded him of home, and the mountains would have fueled his soul.”
I needed to seek refuge, and I did so on the porch.
I haven’t had a cleansing cry like this since the 20th of February, only this time I wasn’t alone. There was a house full of Harpers. Little kids, and big kids.
Shanda came outside, and the tears were flowing like a damn waterfall. I told her I was sorry and that this was why I did things alone. I knew she didn’t care. I knew no one cared that this was happening but it was a moment I hadn’t had with other people around for a really long time.
I sat out there for a while in the rain and dangled my legs over the porch with my head up against the board. I could feel Nick. He was there no doubt, and I just kept staring at the mountain. When Shanda came out, we noticed the fog wasn’t hiding it anymore, and it was clear and sharp.
Shanda told me she and Jarod were prepared for this to happen because they have spent many times at the ranch feeling Nick’s presence and they had no doubt I would too.
We went for a mini-hike the next day. It was such a beautiful day. The dogs were running around, the kids were playing, and the wind was blowing. For some reason, I have always associated the breeze with Nick. I know the others felt the wind, but sometimes I feel it when for everyone else the world is still.
I was holding the hand of a little gal who stole my heart. Children have a way of soothing your soul, and they don’t even know it. How do they know that holding your hand can take away so much of your pain?
These three kids had no idea that their presence was enough to break me but at the same time heal pieces of my shattered heart. Their innocence and ability to just “be” with you when you’re having a moment is incredible, and I have felt this over the last year multiple times with the small little angels that I have been blessed to have in my life.
After the hike, I felt it again. Like a ton of bricks. Back to the porch, I went.
This time I had my headphones, and as I do many times in moments of reflection, I played Go Rest High On That Mountain on repeat. Vince Gill will never understand how powerful that song is for someone who has lost their person on a mountain. My person struggled with his own demons and did so until the very last day of his life. I know this because we talked about it just days before he died and he was devastated. We decided that day that this was “our” year and no selfish person was going to take that from us.
Nick was a loyal man, but didn’t receive that same loyalty in return from a few people who he wanted so badly to “genuinely” love him and care about his life, and all that he had built for himself.
Those are some of my demons. I will forever be protective of his heart and that pain he had is something I find so difficult to let go.
I loved you Nick, and I will love you until forever.
That mountain spoke to me, and there is no doubt in my heart that it was Nick. It was radiating love, and the power it had over me was undeniable.
That mountain allowed me to cleanse and forced some of those demons still left inside of me to come out. Demons I didn’t even know I still had. That mountain showed no judgment, and that mountain displayed a presence that was majestic but also fierce.
I have often looked at the mountains since Nick’s death with anger in my heart. How could you take away my world and still stand strong? I look at those mountains and see the same beauty I did before, but now I know the truth. Those mountains will fuel your fire, and they will bring you peace, but if you aren’t careful their fierceness will remind you that the only sure thing in this world is death and it can happen to any of us, on any day, and at any age.
Live fearlessly and remember that tomorrow isn’t promised and today is all you have.
Always remember to allow yourself to be where you are and never ever give up. <3