For Eli


I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m pretty sure
that your laugh was your father’s favorite sound.
I believe this because it happened so often, your giggling
echoed through the trees, unable to stop; I’d watch you
and join in–how could I not?

The last time we were all hiking together, at Boulder River,
after a weekend of camping, you took off, scaling rocks
down by the river; your dad followed suit while I opted for the safe
route up above, taking after my own father whose anxiety
I still carry with me today–but you, you take after a man
who was unafraid, whose curiosity and desire led him all over
the world, often with you by his side (or leading the way
as the case may have been).  Like on Sun Mountain last summer
when you wound through the forest’s narrow paths on that ‘fat bike’,
your dad behind you and me trailing yet behind him…
Or you gliding down the mountain last winter at Source Lake,
wondering why it was taking me so long to get down.
(You didn’t see it, but the best fall was not the one you two
continued laughing about; it was the first one when I fell face-first
into the snow, landing with my poles and arms buried deep
in the snow, unable to move)

So many memories surface of our adventures over nine years
of your life.  You are like family to me; your father a man who,
unashamed of being who he was, made space for people like me
to be who I am–a woman who delights in adventure, spontaneity,
authenticity, worthy of love and belonging–of which you two no doubt
shared with me.  Your love always, always reaching out, content not
to hoard but to hold the world in your arms, to welcome the stranger
in whose face your father recognized a kinship that transcended
all bounds.  This, you do, too.  You can’t not do it–because you know
what many in this world don’t:

That we are all–all–in this together.