This is going to be an update trail blog on Mouse from mom’s perspective. When my son Kyle moved to Indianapolis at 18, I bought him a sign that read “Home is where your story begins”. When Sarra moved to Cincinnati I gave her a pillow that was embroidered “Home is where you mom is”. Thursday she hiked a section of the AT that is nicknamed the roller coaster, due to its small, continuous ups and downs. Not mountains, just rolling hills. It was quite appropriate due to a week of roller coaster emotions for all of us.
It started Saturday when Brian and I took Lydia (our grand-daughter) to the Indianapolis 500 parade. I got a call from Sarra and she was on the hiking struggle bus. She was tired, emotional and didn’t want to hike. It’s not the first call I’ve gotten like this, but somehow I knew it was different. This wasn’t an ‘I want to quit’ call, I doubt I’ll ever receive that call from her. And it wasn’t the usual, I need a pep talk call which I’ve received a few times. It was somewhere in the middle. I had a hard time hearing her due to the parade, but my advice was to find a nice shady spot, sit down and have a good hard cry, get out your IPod for some music and think about what you want to do when we meet you in Harpers Ferry West Virginia next weekend. I don’t know if it helped or was what she needed, but she did all I had suggested. The next day she got off the trail for the night and stayed with friends of Vulture, whom she’s still hiking with. A bed, shower and home cooked food will do wonders.
Tuesday, we received a call that Brian’s father Bill, who was diagnosed with stage 4 Lung cancer over 2 years ago and has not been doing well, was now bedridden and gravely ill. Of course we knew we had to cancel our weekend to see Sarra so Brian could be with his father. When I called Sarra, she totally understood and agreed, but again the tears flowed from both of us. I’ve been surprised at how well she and I have been able to stay in touch and I don’t miss her anything like I thought I would. I imagined lying in bed not being able to sleep thinking of her being cold, wet and hungry. Although I think of her all the time and trail duties from home keep me busy, I don’t miss her. It’s like she’s just on a vacation. Except . . . this week I miss her terribly and she was missing me. So, I was torn, do I stay home for Brian or do I go to Harpers Ferry for Sarra. Before Sarra left on her adventure we talked about everything that needed said, things that we didn’t want to think about, but had to be discussed. We have a plan for every situation. I told her if she ever needed me to meet her on the trail for any reason I would drop whatever and drive to wherever. Sarra also knew it was a possibility that her Grandpa Walker would probably not live to see her finish her hike. But one thing we didn’t plan for was 2 situations happening at the same time. Her needing a day off with her mom and the passing of her grandfather.
I had decided that I needed to be here for Brian, so Thursday morning when I pulled into work and my phone rang I said ‘we both know that I need to stay’. As I sat in the parking lot and listened to how emotional she had been and about her sobbing uncontrollably the night before, it tugged at my heartstrings. I hung up and sat in my car and cried. All day I couldn’t shake the war in my head about staying or going. After work I went to visit Brian’s father and talk to Brian, who had already been discussing the matter with his family and they all agreed I should go to Sarra. So I text Sarra that I was coming out. Remember those rolling hills she was walking? Ups and downs? She got my text and called back saying, what? Then told me she was a day ahead of schedule and could I leave the following morning to get to her in time for her day off. What?? There was no way. Lots of roller coaster ups and downs this week.
Let me tie this up. I’m not going. Brian and I will meet her in 3 weeks where ever she may be. Sarra and I had a really nice long talk and she’s feeling better, which in turn makes me feel better. She called her dad and he passed the phone over to her Grandfather, which I know made him happy. We talked about her trail family. Sarra said her group is aware of what all is going on with her emotions and back home, they’re taking good care of her. She explained what awesome support she has out there. Which brings me back to ‘home’. Sarra’s home will always be with us no matter where we are or where she is. But right now, the Appalachian Trail is her home and whomever she is hiking with is her family. I can’t express enough how wonderful the people are on and off that trail. It is such a community, one that she’ll be a part of forever. Needless to say it’s been one roller coaster of a week for all of us. Keep burning up the trail Mouse and congratulations on hitting mile 1,000!! You’re doing great and learning several life lessons along the way. We are all incredibly proud of you.