It is December of 2019, just a few weeks left until the new decade. With everything that had happened leading up to the end of this year, it felt surreal to have made it here alive. For the first time in my life, I had felt hopeful for the next day, for the next week, next, month, next year, and this next decade. So to celebrate my newfound hope, I went on a trip that I do before the start of every new year, a tradition I have kept close to my heart ever since I graduated high school.

I decided to make this yearly tradition a little more special by bringing some friends for the first time in my life. I am almost always alone when I show up to burn some money and light up some incense or leave some flowers and food but I wanted to be a little more hopeful this year. To symbolize my new found hope, I did something outside my comfort zone and brought some people to honor their memory and spirit as well. Although I am not a religious person, I am very spiritual and by burning some origami flowers and some folded golden ingots, it is as if though I am lighting the fires of their memories ablaze in my life again.

Saying goodbyes, saying farewells, that always came easy to me. In a life full of an eternal sonata of departures I was never shy at saying good bye. It was always hard when it started, when you first experience it, but as time goes on, you just learn to move along. But just because departures came easy to me, it did not mean that I had learned the right way to say good bye and let go. Up until coming here with friends, whenever I said good bye I was running away from everything. I was running away from closure, from my feelings, from the consequences, it’s as if all I did was close the book without processing the conclusion and immediately moving onto the next story. I never gave myself a moment, I never paused and took in the final pages of whatever story I was in for what it was. There was no resolution or potential for a epilogue of clarity and peace, there was only ever the next story. It wasn’t until I showed up there today with my friends, with flame and flowers in hand that I realized the peace that can come with saying farewell.

For the longest time I came here to keep the flames of their memories and spirit alive. To make sure that the marks they etched onto my life will stand the test of time. But as I finally showed up here with friends, I felt a wave of peace overwhelm me. As the gentle winter’s breeze surrounded us, I looked up into the sky and thought about how beautiful this moment was. How much my life has changed throughout the years and how different I was each time I came to burn incense here. But this is the first time I felt at peace, that although there is a deep hole from the loss of these good people, a deep hole from the loss of so many important things in my life, it no longer threatens to overwhelm me or consume me. Although the gaping wound of loss looked deep, when compared to my soul, my heart, and my spirit, that had grown so much stronger and larger through the years, everything feels like a flesh wound at worst.

And so here I stand, through my trails and tribulations, atop of my mountain.

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