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Kansas City MO 64131





Cindy Maddera

There it was. The Appalachian trail. I knew it was in Maine. I know the trail starts and or ends in Maine, depending on which direction you're walking. I just hadn't planned on venturing near any part of the trail. Too far north. Too far inland. Too little time. So I left Chris on top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, the first place the sun hits the US in the mornings. We shared a sunrise, something I can't remember doing with him when he was alive. Well, not unless you count that time we were attacked by the raccoon and sat the rest out of the night out at the table, staring bleakly into the woods and jumping at any sound. This spot was a nice spot blocked from the wind on a rock ledge that faced East. There was still a good portion of ashes left when we returned the next day for a stamp. Then Talaura and I got obsessed with seeing a moose. So we started driving West in search of moose, taking us into the mountain forest region of Maine. 

Talaura saw the sign for it first and asked if I wanted to stop, if I needed to stop. We were eating chili cheese dog flavored potato chips and they all started to gum up inside my mouth as I said no. Hot tears filled my eyes and I suddenly felt like I was drowning in a wave of indecision and self doubt. Why didn't I split my supply of ashes? Why didn't I check with Talaura ahead of time about going near the trail? Am I honoring Chris the way I should be? Am I doing the right thing? Then I started sobbing because all of it made me angry. Chris, the Appalachian trail, his stupid ashes, livers and tumors, my self doubt. And I shook with the struggle between pushing the sobs away and just letting them come. In the end I said "OK...OK tears, you get one minute. Sixty seconds. Then you dry the fuck up." I didn't make a bargain with myself. No ultimatums. I just let myself have a minute. 

I am constantly swimming in a pool of self doubt. I'm a good swimmer and I can tread water enough to keep my head out of water, but it's exhausting at times. I never see that getting out of the pool is an option. Instead, I see that I have three choices. I can keep swimming, I can stop swimming and let myself sink to the bottom of the pool, or I can lean back and just float. In that minute, I floated. When my minute was up, I started swimming again and this time, I swam to the edge and got out of the pool. I started thinking about my choice to leave Chris on Cadillac Mountain. It was a good choice. I left him in a good spot. I stand by that. This trip was not about the Appalachian trail and it wasn't the time for me to leave Chris there. I still believe the Appalachian trail is something Traci and I have to do together. I think this is the most confident I've ever felt about places I leave Chris. 

I suppose it's about time I got out of the pool since I've been in long enough for my fingers and toes to become all pruny.