I’ve endured many challenges on trail, but nothing compares to the conflicting emotions that overwhelmed me on October 20 and thereafter.
I was at Sam’s Gap to catch a shuttle to the hostel, eager to FaceTime my siblings who were both in the hospital: my sister delivered her first baby and my brother discovered a tumor on his spine. I’ve never shed tears of happiness and distress simultaneously before; my mind and heart were confused. This uncertainty ached me for a week, making it difficult to continue putting one foot in front of the other. I even began to resent the trail and decided, with only about 160 miles left, that this isn’t how I wanted to complete it. Finishing with a heavy heart would diminish the great accomplishment that this would be. I got off trail, leaving my tramily, to support my family not knowing when I’d return.
When I was home, I went into big-sister mode. My days were either spent with my sister to help alleviate just a morsel of motherhood stresses or at the hospital to hangout with my brother. I needed answers to have some semblance of peace. I asked my sister about proper etiquette when visiting new moms and asked nurses and doctors rudimentary questions to understand my brother’s condition. I put my thru-hike sorrows to the side, but they’d still arise. The sadness reminded me of how I felt when I decided to get off trail. It was hard to support at the desired capacity while grieving the trail, so I got back on to finish what I started.
I’ll finish on November 20, one month after the beginning of all this. I caught a glimpse of this new reality I’d come home to after reaching the end. The remainder of the journey will be different than expected and getting used to this new normal won’t be easy, but such is life. I asked for a challenge and I sure as hell got one.
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