Mile 2,642. 8 miles to the finish.
Getting ready to leave for Canada today. I can hardly believe the end of the journey is in sight. Even though I haven’t walked the entire trail with my own two feet, it feels as though I’ve trekked along beside Astro (Andy) every step of the way. Always wondering when the next phone call would come, anticipating what angst he would reveal or what beauty he would interpret. And living through it vicariously.
So many of our phone calls were filled with talks about food, what he longed for and what he was sick of. But we had other talks too, the things reserved for a mom’s ears to hear, the fear, the excitement, the anxiety, the loneliness, the unpredictability of it all. Even though we each experience that in our daily lives, I believe its more heightened on the trail because of that one basic need — water — the constant thought of water — when will I run out?, where will I find more? and will I have enough? — these thoughts consume much of a thru-hikers daily activity. When do we ever wonder when our next glass of water will come from?
The plans to meet have all been laid. But I’m holding them very lightly, because plans do change or reorganize themselves in fascinating ways, especially when it comes to Andy. Along the trail, during our chats through the little towns that dot the PCT, we talked about the future and what he would do next. Andy always thinks big, and I always go along. Because quite honestly, with Andy anything is possible.
Tomorrow my dad (Andy’s Grandpa), his sister, and his best friend since kindergarten will get on early morning flights to Seattle and then rent a car and drive to Manning Park, Canada. I’ve tried to keep this surprise under wraps, but by now Andy might already suspect there is a welcoming party at the end of this long journey. And it’s not just family, there is also a contingency of supporters that have been inspired by his journey, and by all the PCT-thru hikers and what an amazing accomplishment this is in so many ways. The courage, the audacity, the spirit to leave life as you know it and take an adventure into the unknown, WOW, when have you ever done that? It can only take you more deeply into yourself and that can be a scary place sometimes, or a marvelous adventure.
Andy’s Adventure had an unexpected detour that only strengthened his resolve to carry on, to see this thing to the end. He could have gotten off the trail, but he didn’t. What courage, what strength.
The future ahead is riddled with unknowns. When I look deep into my practice as a meditator, I recognize that the unknown is the truth of all of our futures — it is really all unknown. (Well, there is one thing for certain.) I’ve learned over these past years living with Andy’s cancer that anything is possible and right now he is vitally alive and we are vitally alive, so we are going to really LIVE and CELEBRATE this amazing accomplishment this weekend.