This time Laura and I were in Alaska three months after my dad died. We were crashing on a stranger’s couch and he had a picture window overlooking a glacier sliding into a lake. I wanted to cry at the beauty of it all — the whales we had seen in the icy water, the mountains that almost seemed to come crashing down on me, the people who let us into their homes without knowing a speck about us. I was crushed knowing my dad could not see the beauty, and I was warmed by knowing that he probably was the beauty.
We went to karaoke, and I got drunk and sang that Nate Reuss and Pink song with a random bar hopper while Laura captivated everyone with Adele. She drove me home in the stranger’s car. The man, a dentist, had pushed his couch together to make a bed for us, and I flopped down. I covered myself in blankets and started crying as violently and silently as I could. When I thought Laura fell asleep, I stayed awake for hours, until finally I got up, opened the door, walked down the gravel driveway and down to the lake. I couldn’t take my eyes off the mountains. I was whole with love and simultaneously broken.
At 4 a.m., the mountains were dark, but nothing is ever really dark in Alaska in the summer. They stared back menacingly. I had never seen anything so mammoth and all-knowing. They were deep, untouched, mysterious, overwhelming. They wanted me to spill my secrets like the glacier slowly oozing its way down.
I called my mom. Four years later, she told me it was OK. She told me she loved me. She told me she understood.