Ever miss a space before you’ve barely even left it?

I keep traveling back in my mind to all the magical weekend warrior road trips we took the second half of the summer as we tried to pack in as many Alaskan experiences as we can.

We camp by a stream in Tok as the rain pours down. We snuggle in a tree house in Homer, drive out onto the beach, watch the sunset from the warmth of our car. We sleep by a waterfall in Valdez, a cozy cabin in Seward, a river and glassy starlit night in Wrangell. And we take as much as we can of Alaska into our hands and savor the gifts of this great state.

Mountains and tundra and glaciers and valleys and green and gold and blue and sky: I wondered as we were creating these memories why it had to take the expectation of leaving a place to make me LIVE in this place, even as I knew there is a cannot be replicated, heightened, magical quality about each adventure, because somehow knowing it is my last opportunity makes it more finite and precious than it would have been otherwise.

Part of me wants more time, more memories, but much is already shut down for the season. Winter comes quick around these parts. The sun is setting early. It’s chilly in the night. Most of the leaves and blooms and fruition that dotted the landscape summer to early fall are gone, replaced with the contemplation of frost and bare branches and longer nights. And the long stretches of midnight sun and the ease of car camping have passed.

I miss that space, however. Though it was just a stones throw back, I still wish we could have pushed that magical time line out just a bit further, that autumn into winter didn’t descend with such a dark rush here. And I already have a fond sense of wistful nostalgia for the memories we made.

We always want more time. But that is not for us to decide, and the best we can do is choose what to do with the time that is given to us.

I spoke those words in my brother’s eulogy back in January, and whenever I get wrapped up in wistful yearning for time gone by, they orient me to the present. Remind me to be grateful for what has come to pass and to continue to embrace what will be and what is in the present. Because as beautiful as it is to roll around in the memories of what was, ultimately life is meant to be lived forwards, not back.

Having said that, I find myself living out two different time lines at present. Part of me is fully planted here, in these October moments of change and leaves and dusk and grace. And part of me has been swept back into the past 9 months as I work on my book.

I’ve relived and remembered and revived every step I’ve taken since that awful January day in order to put the pages together, and as I’ve done so, I know why I put the project off during the summer, chose to take our weekends and expand into the beauty of Alaska instead of cocooning myself in my little writer’s zone and wrapping myself in this project: they are sad, hard steps to relive and revive.

Stare at the same pages long enough and you’ll convince yourself your work is awful. Stare at the same pages long enough and you’ll convince yourself your work is wonderful. Awful or wonderful, I have come to realize these last few weeks that the stories in these pages on love and loss and Brent and I and family and resilience and grief- they are the only story I have to tell.

And I feel pressed upon to tell it. To write these words, to assemble them into some form of a book, to offer it up for the reading.

And I feel compelled to do it now.

Now is the time for this project, in this space of late fall where death is conducting a symphony of color as the trees cry golden leaves. They support my process, reminding me they too know what it is to grow and lose and regrow again. They tell me to write this here- in this present moment- that I don’t want to revive and relive these words a year from now on the shores of Kauai.

Kauai is for the healing. Not the breaking.

It strikes me that maybe 6 months from now I will look back to this time period with a fond sense of wistful nostalgia. Most things become all the more bittersweet in their passing then in their living, and hindsight and reflection and “where did the time go?” become the best emissaries of rose colored glasses that ever existed.

And maybe I’ll remember this time- playing out this overly romanticized writer’s cliché of furiously typing and revising and rearranging and pulling at my hair and staying up too late and wine and candlelight and getting up too early and coffee and sunrise and remembering and laughing and loving and hating and bleeding out all over this manuscript as the leaves fall and the sky goes from amber to gray to blue to pink in the dance of season’s twilight- maybe I’ll travel back in my mind and remember this time as magic, wish I could revisit it one more time.

We always want more time. But that is not for us to decide, and the best we can do is choose what to do with the time that is given to us.

And so I do.

I spend my morning typing and I lose myself in my memories when need be and I try and pull all that is autumn into me to truly take in the season and I decide a pumpkin spice latte is on docket today and I go lean on a tree, tell it about the places I bleed as I watch it lose its leaves with careless peace.