Two years ago today I saw my oldest child for the last time. Twelve days later he was dead.
I am so grateful that Jenna wanted a family camping trip for her 20th birthday. Because of that, our family was mostly together that weekend, camping, hiking, enjoying the great outdoors. Jenna chose Lower Falls Campground on the Lewis River, a beautiful area of waterfalls, a few old growth trees, majestic mountains, and pitch dark nights to best appreciate the multitude of stars overhead.
Dustin rode up with my boyfriend Glenn after work. It apparently was an exciting ride. Glenn - who I think would drive a beater even if we were millionaires – drove his ’95 Dodge Caravan. With no warning, in the dark, the headlights went out. They didn’t crash… even though the headlights went out twice on those dark, twisty, hilly roads. It’s a good thing Glenn is pretty good under pressure… and a mechanic!
I think the imprints from Dustin’s fingers are still in the dashboard.
Also on the way up, Glenn told Dustin he was thinking about marrying me and asked what he thought about that. Reportedly, Dustin said, “It’s about f***ing time.” Yes, Glenn and I had been together about six years by then. Dustin and he liked each other a lot and Dustin could see that Glenn made me happier than I’d ever been. It makes me feel good to know that my son was happy about my happiness. After Dustin’s death, Glenn stated that he would like to get married on Dustin’s birthday to honor him. So we did.
|Lower Falls of the Lewis River|
We all had a fun weekend camping. During the day Saturday we hiked the trail along the Lewis River, past Lower, Middle, and Upper Falls. Their names certainly do not do justice to how beautiful these falls are! We took pictures of Dustin and Jenna inside a fallen log above Middle Falls and in front of a very large old growth Douglas Fir.
Saturday night a camper from two sites over apparently thought we were more entertaining than the group he was with, so “Boot” joined us and he and Dustin drank and debated and argued late into the night. I’m a reader, not a debater, so I retired to the tent with whatever thriller or mystery I happened to be reading, and had to smile every time I heard Dustin say to Boot, “You just don’t understand.” Dustin could be pretty opinionated. Sounded like Boot was, too. And I could also hear Glenn, trying to mediate between the two.
Dustin didn’t like to be a “sissy” camper so he refused to sleep in a tent, preferring to sleep in a cheap hammock strung between two trees. A hard thing to maneuver into after a night of drinking, even with his mother’s and sister’s help. That night he ended up sleeping on the ground.
These are my last memories of my precious son. Today, two years later, they are bittersweet. I love thinking of the happy times we had with Dustin, of his idiosyncrasies, obstinacy, loving nature. I hate thinking there can be no more of them.