Yesterday we hiked. Our family likes to hike and camp. Dustin was our motivator because he loved the outdoors. Hiking and camping with Dustin was always fun, but it wasn’t fun at all times because he was a risk-taker and he also loved to go off on his own…usually without telling anyone that he was. We would just all of a sudden notice he was gone. Sometimes he would be gone for hours. Sometimes for so long we would wonder with sinking guts if it was time to notify search and rescue.
|Dustin during hike for sister's birthday, 7/30/11|
And sometimes Dustin would tell scary stories, such as that he climbed to the summit of Mt St Helens by himself, without telling anyone he was going to, without the required permit. He wrote a journal entry some years ago about biking from Vancouver to Hamilton Mt in the Columbia River Gorge, about 40-45 miles one way, hiking Hamilton with an elevation gain of 2100 feet in 4 miles, then biking back home. (He was amazingly fit!)
|View from Hamilton Mt taken by sister Jenna during the Memorial Hike 8/12/12|
Highway 14, the Lewis and Clark Highway, is a twisty, hilly road with speed limits between 25 and 50, a nice road for motor vehicles. There are abundant roadside viewpoints and it is just a beautiful ride that we’ve enjoyed many, many times. Now that Dustin’s been killed on his bike, now that I’ve read that journal entry, however, I can’t go on this road without looking at how curvy it is, with no shoulder whatsoever in many places and so many blind spots, and I think, “I could understand it here, him being killed here. It would make sense.” I actually feel angry that he took the risk to ride this road. I feel angry after his death that he took this risk even though he survived it. Feelings are a funny thing.
And then those thoughts lead to what actually happened to him and how I just still “don’t get it.” He lived through riding on the Lewis and Clark Highway yet was killed while riding on a straight, flat, wide road (2 traffic lanes each way, a center turn lane, two parking lanes, two bikes lanes) with little traffic at 1:00 a.m. There are lights on Division and a sign directly above the crash site urges people to drive safely. He lived through irresponsible hiking and risky biking, but was killed while he was safely, legally riding down a road designed for bikes.
I remember talking with Dustin a few times about needing to tell people where he was going, to take someone else with him. I remember saying to him that there might come a day that he would just disappear and no one would know where he’d been or what he was doing and we would wonder if his disappearance was because of his own behavior or if someone else had done something to him. Where would we start looking, Dustin? I said.
I miss my son. And 14 ½ months later I still don’t understand it, I still don’t think it’s fair, and I still don’t want to believe it. I am never going to see my child or talk to him ever again, Sometimes the pain is so great I just want to die. (But I won’t. I have other children and my husband and other family. And, I know Dustin would want me to live my life as fully as possible. And I do have good times).