Grand Canyon from a distance at sunrise

The Grand Canyon looking grand.

From before this adventure even began, the Grand Canyon was my destination. I wanted to scatter the last of my mom’s ashes here. It felt like a way of honoring her memory, of thanking her for how much she encouraged me to be adventurous and to take risks.

This morning, Zelda and I took a 1.5 mile hike from the North Rim Campground, which is set in a pine forest, to the Grand Canyon Lodge, which overlooks the canyon. I sat on a bench there, Zelda enthusiastically appreciating all the miscellany of smells (in other words, being a totally non-peaceful pain) and admired the view and remembered my mom.

R gave me a candle for Christmas two years ago that said, “Home is where my Mom is.” Then he told me he hadn’t noticed what it said before he bought it and he just liked the smell. Ha.

I reread A Gift of Ghostsyesterday. I was looking up something specific — oh, my initial description of Max. I wanted to be sure that I got it right in Grace. But I wound up re-reading the whole thing. It was odd timing, I guess, because Zane’s scene at the end, where he knows he has to let go of his mom, knows he has to say good-bye… well, maybe that’s what brought up all these feelings of mine today.

But I really didn’t expect the Grand Canyon to inspire so much emotion on my part. I pictured — well, a crowded scenic overlook. Lots of tourists. Dry, sandy air. A big hole in the ground. Instead, I got a quiet bench, total solitude, the sun rising in the east, storm clouds overhead, a deep chill in the air, a happy dog, a fantastic view, and an unexpectedly intense burst of grief.

In all of my dozens of versions of Grace, I have never managed to write the ending. I know what I think happens. The path there changes, but the ending never has. But every time I get close, I go back and start from the beginning again. I want to say that maybe that means it’s time to work on a new ending, one that doesn’t involve letting go, but every time I consider that choice, it feels wrong to me.

Letting go and moving on, those are right things. Those are good things. But I need to make room for the reality that letting go doesn’t mean not grieving. Letting go doesn’t change the pain of the loss. It just acknowledges the pain, accepts it. Maybe even embraces it. I think maybe Grace needs to cry. A lot. (Not the story, the character.) I think maybe a huge part of my Grace problem is that Grace cannot get to her happy ending without really, truly facing her grief and sorrow and loss, which was never part of my plan. Huh. Well… I guess I should be working on Grace right now.

Meanwhile, the North Rim campground — more forest than I expected, quite spacious, lots of people in appropriate winter attire, seriously cold. And my generator has decided not to work, which does not make me happy. Also I am almost out of propane. No internet, too! So today is going to include a search for propane, a scenic drive, and — given the current lack of electricity — probably not actually much more writing. Oh, well. I bought coffee at the general store, because of my own lack of propane and non-functional generator and they give free refills all day, so maybe I’ll drink lots of coffee and knit. And think more about Grace’s grief.