In the last couple of years leading up to when Rickie was supposed to retire he said to me many times “if we can just have 5 good years retired together, I’ll be happy. No matter what happens after that. Just 5 good years.”
On November 3, 2012 I posted this on Facebook -
“Opening day. Rickie in deer stand. I'm trying to be quiet in the cabin. Remembering back to the early days on opening weekend when Rick and his friend John C used to come out & occasionally our son John. We had the tiny trailer then and most of the time not hunting was spent around the campfire. I didn't come; it was just the guys. Those are good memories for them. Now we're all 20+ years older and have more comfortable quarters. But still. Who knew time would pass so quickly.”
The thing I feel luckiest for with these memories of the horrible camper we had then and of the times spent at the ranch in the early days, is that even then we knew we were lucky and blessed with what we had and with the opportunity we had to be there. I don’t have to look back and say “I wish I had known then how special those times were.” We all knew. And I still try to realize the wonder and the opportunity we have now with the Colorado home. Both then and now I know, in spite of the heartbreak, that we lived our dream and not everyone gets a chance to. Though I have to say also we took advantage of the chance. None of it was an easy choice and we sacrificed a lot to make the dreams come true. I don’t regret a minute if it.
This time of year when so many memories of family times at the ranch come up, I’m always sad for what we lost when Rickie died. And wonder if I should have stayed and just died of sorrow there. But I’m reminded of an old joke I heard years ago. A man was on top of his roof with flood waters all around. Someone came by on a raft and asked him to get on and he said no, God will save me. Then someone in a little boat came by and tried also to save him. Again he said no, God will save me. A third time someone in an air boat came by and asked him to get on. He replied as before, God will save me. Then he drowned and went to heaven. He asked God why he didn’t save him. God said “I sent a raft and two boats, what more did you want?”
Sometimes we have to save ourselves whether we think God had a hand in it or not. And here I sit in Colorado watching the snow softly fall outside, having walked with Bixby to the bus stop, fixing to work on unpacking boxes in our new home, hearing from new friends this week, meeting new neighbors, having Colorado friends help me with the move, and looking forward to Nat and Austin and their friends coming over tomorrow.
We know what’s behind us but we never know what’s ahead of us. In 4 days it will be 5 years since Rickie died. We didn’t get one day together of the 5 good years he hoped for. And sometimes when I think of that I can’t breath. But I’ve survived the 5 years, some times just barely. I didn’t stay at the ranch just to die of sorrow. And I’ve made some wonderful memories and spent some treasured times with the people I love. Was it 5 good years? It was 5 bittersweet years and I have treasured every one. As we did in the early lean days, I know I’m lucky and blessed to be here.
And I’m glad I got on the boat when it came by.