Wise Woman Travel

Exploring the world from a female perspective

The trees are about to show us how lovely it can be to let things go. (Anonymous)

We couldn’t have known last June when we booked a fall escape to Jasper the sad event that would occur just a couple of weeks before our departure.

My husband’s best friend for more than 40 years, and mine for 27, suddenly passed away. Roman was 56. There was no chance to say goodbye, no opportunity to tell him how much his friendship had meant to us.

With COVID restrictions in place, we knew Roman’s family would not be allowed to have a social function after his prayer service so we got together a small group of friends for a weiner roast and toast to him. The next day, we were among the fewer than 30 people who attended the service, gazing up at a screen shot of Roman that depicted his face just before, as his brother said in his eulogy, “he unleashed his trademark laugh, which he shared easily and generously.”

As we headed for the mountains a few days later, it somehow made me feel a bit better to remember that Jasper was one of Roman’s favorite places too. On the drive, we sometimes talked about him, sometimes about other things. Sometimes, we rode in silence. A more-like-summer fall day, the sun lit up the poplar and aspens, their gold mingling among the dark green spruce, sweeping up the mountains in tweedy carpets.

We arrived in Jasper too early to check into our cabin, so we headed to Maligne Canyon, where hiking trails lead to a series of bridges that cross the 50 feet deep chasm, the water boiling down in spectacular waterfalls. Stand close enough and you can feel the spray on your face.

The quiet forest paths, springy with Christmas-smelling pine and spruce needles, provided a serene contrast to the thrill of the water carved gorges. There weren’t many people around, so we all had the space and quiet we needed to explore. Couples paused to take selfie photos. Children ran ahead of their parents, excited to arrive at the next viewpoint. Off to one side of the path, three Japanese women stood close together, one of them quietly crying. Her friends handed her tissues. She raised her sunglasses and wiped her eyes.

Quite a bit further down the path, the Maligne River calms down as it leaves the canyon behind, dancing over rocks, a ribbon of pale aqua looping through the forest. We took separate paths to find our favorite vantage points for photos, Lorne on the bridge, me wandering on either side of the river.

Shortly before dinner time, we arrived at Tekarra Lodge, a collection of cabins just outside of Jasper. I went for a walk to check out the property, listening to our neighbors making the most of this possibly last warm weekend. Women wandered by enjoying girlfriend weekends. Kids shrieked from the playground. A young couple introduced me to their Sheltie puppy, who woofed at me once, then hid behind a clump of grass. Back at the cabin, I joined Lorne on our sweet little verandah for a charcuterie plate and a bottle of red.

The next day was jacket weather, overcast skies and showers elbowing yesterday’s warmth out of the way. We had hoped to enjoy the iconic turquoise of Maligne Lake in the afternoon, but without the blue above, its water was grey, and a steady drizzle made it unpleasant for walking. Luckily, the trees on either side of the road on our return to the cabin were unaffected by the weather, their golden even more radiant against the leaden skies.

That night, we celebrated my birthday at Tekarra’s onsite restaurant with pre-dinner cocktails, beef short ribs, truffle mashed potatoes, and chocolate cake. It was much chillier than the previous evening, so Lorne lit the fireplace and we sat in silence, mesmerized by the dancing flames

The next morning, I went for a walk before we hit the road for home. The Adirondack chairs overlooking the river were empty, most people loading up their vehicles for the trip home. A gust of wind brought a sudden release of leaves onto the path ahead of me.

Letting go of our grief at losing our dear friend Roman will be a longer, more complex process. Sometimes, Lorne and I will be together on the journey. Other times, we’ll go our own ways. Sometimes, we might need to leave the path for a quiet cry. But this weekend away somehow bolstered our spirits, gently reminding us that gold and grey naturally co-exist on many pathways.

21 thoughts on “A Journey of Grey and Gold

  1. Meghana Gauthier says:

    A touching tribute to Ronan – and a beautiful record of your time in Jasper.

    Like

  2. Deborah L Begoray says:

    Absolutely lovely, Pam. I think Roman’s family would like to read this as well. It’s a real tribute.

    Like

    1. Pamela Young says:

      Thanks, Deb. I was thinking I should send the link to them.

      Like

  3. Judy C says:

    What a wonderful way to pay tribute to Roman. I think that we always carry the memories of the ones we have loved and have lost on our life’s journeys. I am sure that many places will remind you of the wonderful times shared with Roman. Like me, he was fortunate to have your friendship.

    Like

    1. Pamela Young says:

      Thanks, Judy. Losing a friend can make us remember to really appreciate the ones we have. I’ve always been thankful for our friendship. Miss my walking buddy!

      Like

      1. Judy C says:

        I miss my walking buddy ,too! Walking and talking with my friends has helped me to cope with the pandemic.My glutes also appreciate the walks!

        Like

  4. Gwenda Wigmore says:

    Beautifully written Pam and a great tribute to your dear friend. I found myself walking along with you remembering all the walks Ed and I shared.

    Like

    1. Pamela Young says:

      Thanks, Aunt G. I still have the picture of you and Uncle Ed walking on the path at Moonlight Bay on my birthday all those years ago. You and he walked many paths together, didn’t you?

      Like

  5. growanewleaf says:

    Such a thoughtful contemplation with images that strengthen your experience of grey and gold. So sorry for the loss of your friend, Pam.

    Sent from my iPhone Valary Valary Howard 587-566-6482

    >

    Like

    1. Pamela Young says:

      Thanks, V., for your thoughtful words.

      Like

  6. artswriter1anderson2donovan says:

    What a lovely post, Pam ! Sending a hug to you both re the passing of your friend Roman. WIll be in touch soon with a longer reply, Miss hearing your poems and laughter in our poetry circle- which now meets via Zoom. Lots of Love, Ruth

    Like

    1. Pamela Young says:

      Oh, thanks, Ruth. Even though I no longer write poetry per se, I hope that I always write poetically!

      Like

  7. Linda says:

    Nicely done Pam😇

    Like

    1. Pamela Young says:

      Thanks, neighbor.

      Like

  8. Amy Weaver says:

    I am so deeply sorry for the loss of your dear and long-time friend. I too lost a friend way ahead of her time this summer (she was only 47) and I think that is part of what makes it so difficult. While we all know that no minute is promised to us, when we lose someone who is too young it just catches us off guard, and we find it difficult to make sense of. I hope you don’t suffer too much on your journey through grief – hold on to all the good memories – they will help get you through. Big hugs dear friend.

    Like

    1. Pamela Young says:

      As always, dear Amy, your words are sensitive and comforting. Thank you so much

      Like

  9. greatauntc says:

    Oh Pamela, thank you for this reminder of our hallway chats, which I miss. Thanks for this – keep writing and take care.

    Like

    1. Pamela Young says:

      You must be from my teaching past, but I can’t tell from your onscreen name who you are. Please let me know!

      Like

  10. Orest Wasarab says:

    Pamela, Roman loved his friends, especially Lorne and you. As family we’re touched at your loving remembrance of him. Many thanks.

    Like

    1. Pamela Young says:

      Thanks so much, Orest. Roman’s passing has left a gap in our lives. We are filling it with fond memories of him.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: