i grew up not really having much of a relationship with my dad, and my mom died when i was 11. there weren’t many “when your mom and i were young…” stories circulating. but one seemed to come up pretty often – a trip my parents took together before i was even a twinkle in their eyes. they left lexington in a blue rambler station wagon (with a pistol in the glove compartment), her in a straw hat, him in an oversized belt buckle. they drove all the way to the west coast, and i can’t remember if they started in canada or san diego, but they drove the length of highway 1. the tale is full of crazy 1970s-young-kids-in-love happenings: youth hostels, illegal pistols in canada, stolen redwood slabs, broken down station wagons, stolen highway signs, and a little city on the coast in washington. moclips.

i’ve heard the story so many times i almost feel like i was there. it was late at night, and they’d been driving for days (weeks?). my dad needed coffee, and there was an exit for a tiny town called moclips. they found a hotel with a restaurant, parked the rambler, and had coffee with a perfect view of the pacific ocean just as the sun began to rise. the fog was thick that day, and it was a typical pnw day – overcast and drizzling. and as they drank their coffee and the sun rose, she fell in love with this sleepy little town right on the ocean.

they would talk about moclips every now and then, and she never lost her love for it. they even had a pact…that if a certain date rolled around and found them not with each other or anyone else, they’d meet back in moclips at that restaurant and live out the rest of their days in the seaside town that captivated her so many years before.

fast forward 35-ish years to 2017. i wrote these words on the plane, traveling across the country to spread my mom’s ashes in the city that she loved on what would have been her 61st birthday.

we never took even one trip together
no summer vacations
or spring breaks
or long weekends
or a day trip

but now
we are traveling across the country
for our first and final trip

and even though
you won’t be physically there
you will be there
in a more real way
than you ever were physically present

because this trip is about
letting go
and holding on
and remembering
and forgiving
(finally forgiving)

twenty-six years…
you’ve missed so many moments
leslie has your eyes and spirit
and lucy your smile and twinkle
and that?
it’s breathtaking
and heartbreaking
and comforting
a wild storm of contradictions
which is such a perfect illustration
of the way you lived
and i feel so blessed
because the best parts of you
are living on
in your granddaughters
and your life was not wasted
because they will
know and tell your story

our first trip will be our last
and i am filled with so much
and peace
at the thought of it

and then these words going home:

i’ve tried countless times
to write the words
that would somehow capture
that day,
and every time
i have failed
because the words for those emotions?
well, they either don’t exist
or i haven’t found them
but maybe these will come close:

after twenty-six years
and so many tears
it was finally time
to let you go.

the tide roared in
with such fervor
that it matched
the intensity of every single
beat of my heart…
like it somehow realized
the enormity of the day
and what was about to happen

and as i poured you out
into those waves
and that deep, wide, endless water
there wasn’t one single drop
of sadness
or regret
or anything
other than absolute certainty
that this was where you belonged

you had always belonged there
i felt that in places so deep
that i’m not sure i knew they even existed
before that moment
but as i watched you become part of
the ocean and the fog
i knew that it was true

and after,
the tide slowed
and the smallest wave
barely reached my feet
a gentle acknowledgement
of how perfect
life (and death) can be.

and today we’re back in moclips, just as in love with this place as she was, like our souls have found their home. i cried when we got close, and again in our sweet beach house, and then again when we walked to the ocean. the tide was all the way out, and we walked for what felt like forever to dip our toes in the water. when we got close enough, we turned back to avoid the icy temperatures, and i swear the water followed us, further up the beach than the waves had been coming until (just like that day), the tiniest wave barely reached our feet…a gentle acknowledgement of home.

we’ve found our place, and she loves her place and our hearts our hearts our hearts.

xoxo, k