A few months after my cold turkey in June 2011 I told my Benzo buddy Mary,  “When we get well let’s you and I meet at the Grand Canyon to celebrate.” I  thought for sure Mary and I would be standing at the rim, gazing at God’s grandeur the following spring. Surely a year was ample time for our brain damage to repair.

The next spring came and went with another vow that we’d both be recovered by the following spring. That spring came and went. As did the following one. And the one after that, too. I began to lose hope I would heal or that I would ever travel to celebrate at the Grand Canyon,one of my favorite places.

So the recent autum morning I woke up with God whispering to my soul to travel the USA, I was surprised.   But there it was: I was healed enough to travel and healed enough to give hope to others who had lost theirs. I was finally well enough to visit the Grand Canyon.

I’m here. In Mather camp ground, under a billion stars that spill across a vast inky sky. I sat  by a campfire with strangers (Eli and Tun)who invited me to join them. We roasted marshmallows and shared stories about our lives. Turns out the young man grew up in my area and we know people on common. His sweet wife is from Thailand. They had a wonderful romantic story!

The fire burned down to blushing embers. The Mercury dipped into the freezing zone so Shakespeare and I headed back to the van. We are curled up for the night under a down comforter, three blankets and a down sleeping bag. My teeth are still chattering!

I did celebrate today as I stood at the rim of the Grand Canyon. I sobbed quietly for a few moments, enormously grateful that I’m healed enough to be on this journey. Grateful to once again stand before the grandeur of the canyon and feel small but significant. I’m a part of God’s amazing creation. He brought me through the valley of the shadow of death. He never left my side.

Mary, I’m sorry you were unable to join me. But I held you in my heart today. I celebrated for both of us. I celebrated FOR ALL OF US. Keep healing everyone. Life is sweet on the other side.

I’m gonna pull some blankets over my head and try to get some sleep. Just knowing that the Milkey Way is right over head will lull me into dreamland.

I still can’t believe I’m finally here. Amazing.