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The following blog post is a journal entry from our last evening in Colorado, a trip we took earlier in the summer with myself, my man, our two girls, and the beloved family dog, Leroy.

June 24, 2019

We almost Lost LeRoy.

 Eating Five Guys, delivered by Door Dash at a Hyatt House 1 mile from Denver International Airport.  With my WildMan—the man brave enough to love me, a woman he can’t hide from. And the daughter I bore from my body, and the daughter who was given to me by the goddess to guide and love and fight for because I always said I wanted two daughters. And, we cannot forget, though shamefully we sometimes do, the family Australian shepherd who almost got lost in the wilderness of the Colorado Rocky Mountains today. For these four creatures I will fight with the ferociousness of a Wolf-Bitch for.

 We are crazy, my Wild Man and I.

Crazy full of love and optimism.

And passion.

And a belief in people.

And the sense that every creature on this planet gets to grow.

 Tonight is our last night in Colorado—a place I’ve been coming to for almost three years now, several times a year. And it is a magical land of pine trees, mountain lions, wild turkeys, snow, and tough people who believe in the magic of rocks and flowers and trees—likely descendants of the pagans.

 But Colorado, will all of its magic, is FIERCE. And harsh. Completely unforgiving. Today we almost lost the family dog. About to take a dip in a mountain stream, Travis urgently asked, “Where’s Leroy?” We looked around and didn’t see him. We just trusted that he was always on our heels—because he always is. We dropped everything- Travis took one of the wilderness whistles that I insist we have and started down the trail and started calling for Leroy. I stayed with the girls and the other whistle and we started calling for him too. The girls started crying. Losing a dog in the wilderness for 20 minutes felt like an eternity. I couldn’t help but think, “we’re going to experience the Homeward Bound drama as a family and how do we tell a 5 and 7 year old that we will have to stop looking for him when the sun sets?”

We joined together on the trail again, still without the dog. Travis and I began to discuss our next moves, all while trying to stay calm but quickly decisive. Leroy came bounding up the trail, running towards us as though nothing happened. We all cried and hugged him and each other and felt RELIEF.

 And. I need to do more cardio. Living at sea level has made my lungs L-A-Z-Y. Which is great, but makes me feel weak when I come to places like the Rocky Mountains that require you not to put your guard down even for a moment.

 Aside from the setting of “ I will tear your ass up and eat it for dinner,” let’s talk family dynamics: today, my cowboy wanted to do those Old Timey photo booths—you know—where you dress up like you’re in the 1870’s and take pictures in black and white and don’t smile? Well, the youngest was not having it. And it hurt because my Wild Man wanted to take a new family picture for the living room. Which carries extra weight and meaning because as a “blended” family, our search for family identity is more complex.

 But my youngest, who hates being in the spotlight, was level 5 not having it. We couldn’t even bribe her with ice cream.

 And so he did it only with “his” daughter because we are both always feeling the most terrible feeling I wouldn’t wish on any human being –which is that both of the children you love and pour into and would die for and feed and stress over and lose sleep over and chastise and kiss and guide and hug and spend your money on, always feel conflict over receiving all that love and we can all feel it.

 And so naturally, on the last day of a wild trip, and after losing the dog, we lose it. We are normal  in our dysfunction when we are hungry, tired and scared—but our grief as a family has many layers of loss that frequently changes the emotional landscape in ways that in my weak moments I imagine other families don’t cope with.

 But maybe that’s the thing isn’t it? We all like to believe that our own personal grief and tragedy is worse than the next guys’. And we all know people that like to one up you on the pity meter, so let’s just square up and say that life is hard. And the flavor of hardness yours has depends on so many things outside of your control and many things within your control. But here’s what my kids learned today: you never, ever know how long you have with the creatures you claim to love.  So enjoy every mili second you have. Even, and especially the hard moments.

 Because the hard moments are when the burning hot fire burns away everything that isn’t gold.

 Life= the fires of alchemy.

Alchemy.