Last April, my mom passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. My world was turned upside down and I was in a state of shock. Amidst it all, my sisters and I were faced with the task of cleaning out her apartment and sorting through her belongings – a heartbreaking task that proved to be even more difficult than it sounds.
As I was going through some of her things, I came across a binder. This wasn’t strange in itself; mom loved to write and had tons of binders filled with notes, ideas and clippings. What was strange was the fact that it wasn’t a binder filled with her writing ideas, it was a binder filled with a dream she had had for years and wanted to fulfill that coming summer; the dream to take a camping trip to one of the most spectacular places on Earth.
Everything was there; she detailed how much money she would need to budget, what airport she would fly into, what hotels she would stay in when she wasn’t camping, a list of tour companies that offered guided camping trips, what items she would need to bring with her and what activities she would pursue while she was there. I knew this was something she always wanted to do but I was unaware that she had put those plans into action and planned to take that trip in just a few short months. I first felt guilt at not being able to help her fulfill this wish sooner. That switched to a feeling of extreme sadness at the thought that she would never realize that dream. Mom’s final wish was now in our hands and without saying a word at that moment, we three sisters came to the same conclusion; it was our duty to fulfill that dream for Mom with an epic trip to one of the world’s most iconic destinations; The Grand Canyon.
We tried to make plans to take this trip at the same time mom had planned to but with work obligations and conflicting schedules, we had to put it aside. I was laid off, fell into some financial woes, was rehired on at another job and will be laid off again in a couple of weeks. I will have the time and money to go this Spring, Summer or Fall but my sisters will not. Both of them were just hired on at new jobs and will not be able to take the time off until next winter and that is when I will be back at work. We have had to succumb to the reality that we will not be able to take this trip together but each of us will do our own version of Mom’s trip on our own time. I think, in some ways, it will be better that way. I can’t think of a better way for each of us to have that time alone to remember and honor Mom in such a extraordinary way.
I’ve already started planning. I visited the Grand Canyon five years ago but it was a quick, half-day tour of one little area and than it was done. However, just from that little trip, I saw enough to know I want to see more. I’ve done the research, I’ve bookmarked a number of companies I am interested in contacting, I have all my gear that I will need and I have the money put aside for the trip. It’s in the works but I want it to be just perfect and as similar as possible to the trip Mom wanted to take. I will fly to Las Vegas, join a guided camping tour and try to fit in as many activities as possible while I am in the area; mule rides, hikes, whitewater rafting…It will the best trip of my life, it will be epic. And since mom is always with me, she will be with me in the Canyon and will finally be able to see her dream come true!
As for other upcoming adventures in the future? My dream, since I was a kid flipping through my dad’s old World Encyclopedia’s and admiring the beautiful landscapes of faraway lands, is to visit New Zealand. It always was and always will be at the top of my bucket list…and hopefully gapyear.com can help make that dream a reality too!