My son Dexter and I took a walk on my mom's property in northern New Hampshire this past Thanksgiving. There are cliffs that sit high atop her 100 acres of land that I have never climbed to.
This is where my mother wants her ashes scattered.
Earlier this year my 63-year-old mother was diagnosed with dementia. At first none of us wanted to believe it. Mom always seemed to be forgetting things, but we chalked it up to stress.
My moment of clarity came when my kids went to wake her up one Christmas morning. She looked terrified, unsure who they were, not able to recognize her own grandchildren.
It was important for me this Thanksgiving to climb up to the cliffs, to see her sacred place.
My daughter Vivien opted to stay with my mother while Dexter, our bulldog Lyla and I headed out.
Over the years the trails have become overgrown. We had a hard time navigating our way through the brambles and brush.
Yet each step upward rewarded us with a clearer view of the majestic White Mountains on the horizon.
"I know why Grammie likes it here so much," Dexter said.
As I glanced up towards the looming cliffs I lost my footing. I reached for a small tree; rotted it came unearthed and sent me crashing down the slope into the rocks, roots and dirt.
My shoulder was on fire, it felt as though I tore every ligament that held the bones together.
The pain was excruciating. Yet I didn't cry. In some strange way the pain soothed me.
"You need to take five, Mom?" Dexter asked.
I nodded and remained sitting where I had fallen.
He settled down on a nearby fallen tree and Lyla sat loyally by my side. The three of us stared out to the mountains, lost in our own private thoughts.
"I think we should head back, Mom. I don't think Lyla can get up there. It's pretty high and it's getting dark."
I pulled myself up and laughed.
"Do you need to take five?" I asked.
"We'll go up to the top of the cliffs next time, Mom."
Yes, I thought sadly, we will.