The first few days of summer hiking takes some adjustment. The heat awaits you in the morning instead of gently rising as it does in springtime. Kids usually leave something at home, and attitudes might flare up. Yet, after a few days of light hiking everyone falls into sync and adventures begin.
When we finally had no children in carriers and all could have a light backpack, hiking became fast-paced. Finding animals was always the goal. If none were to be found then bugs were next. As Mom, I prayed for an animal to always appear and many times my prayer was not answered my way. Some cute little hands would get in my face telling me to see our newest rolly-polie pet. All named Rolly.
Whether there were animals or bugs the hikes were filled with love, and many of those “teachable moments” people like to talk about.
My husband would take the children who started to collect items – be it bugs, flowers, sticks or rocks – and take them aside. He would teach them about letting nature stay with nature and that we were only visiting the area. Letting their tears come because they truly loved the things they’d found, he would just be firm on keeping the beloved items behind.
On one summer hike, my husband came up with an idea to help the children leave the rocks they had picked up. They would build a fairy house that would double as a small animal shelter. They picked an area and built a two-story house. With a few more sniffles, we all hiked home.
There came a day, not too long before summer, when we had to face the fact that my husband would never hike with us again. While the children continue to pray to Daddy many times a day and find ways to smile, hiking became too hard without him.
Finally, one summer morning, full of shining sun and gentle wind, the children wanted an adventure. My daughter grabbed my hand and softly asked to go see the house she and Daddy had built. I wrapped her in my arms and told her I thought it was a beautiful idea. The whole family packed a small lunch and water and headed out. We smiled and laughed as we walked the paths. There were so many memories.
“Mommy, do you remember when Daddy’s foot got stuck and his shoe was in the mud!” The children’s laughter lifted my heart. Tears flowed behind my sunglasses and each child would come and say, “It’s okay. It’s okay to keep crying.”
I didn’t stop. (I don’t stop, still.)
We reached the little house and my daughter shot over the brush of fallen trees to see it. I saw her fall to her knees, so I ran to her, ready to hold her and tell her what she and her brothers had told me, that it’s okay to cry.
What I found, was her little hands working hard. Some of the rocks had fallen. After the house was back to its original state she began to move sticks around.
“What are you doing, Honey?”
“Look, Mom.” In the dirt, I saw a face that she’d created from sticks and leaves. “I can make Daddy in nature and then he is always with us.”
We cried, and that’s okay.
About the author: Selena Taylor
About the author: Selena TaylorSelena is a devoted mother to four adventurous children. Stories, hiking and music have helped her during her grief. She and her family live in Illinois, where she takes every opportunity to lose herself under the stars and let her imagination run wild. For more from Selena, check her out on Facebook.