Take the trip

I love to travel.

Seeing new places. Trying new foods. All of it.

It’s not just about the trip itself. It’s everything that goes into it. Researching the flights. Finding the perfect AirBNB or hotel. Planning activities to do once we’re there. It’s a thrill for me. Even if it’s not my trip, I love helping someone else plan theirs. I think in another life I was a travel agent.

The only thing I hate about trips is they cost a lot of money. Especially right now.

Seven years ago I was living in Little Rock and was a few months in at my new job as a multi-media journalist at a local news station. A fancy title for a job description that literally requires you to carry up to 50 pounds of camera gear and shoot, write and edit a story on a deadline each day. Not the most glamorous of careers, and certainly not the highest paying, but I loved what I did.

In the summer of 2015, my boyfriend Brock asked me to go to Alaska with him. He was born there and grew up in Juneau. I had never been to Alaska. I’m a Florida girl at heart with a love of beaches and warm weather. But the travel bug had bitten me and I could sense an adventure was on the horizon.

The only problem? I was broke. Starting out in the news industry yields very little income. Not to mention, a flight from Little Rock, Arkansas to Juneau, Alaska was easily a 1/4 of my paycheck. But I was in love and I wanted to share this adventure with Brock and explore the place he loved so much.

So I booked the flight. I can’t remember, but it was most likely on a credit card. I didn’t care though. All I could do was count down the days until I took off to a place I had never been before with the man I loved.

If you’ve ever been to Alaska, you already know it’s a beautiful place. I had no idea what to expect, but something told me it wouldn’t disappoint. And it certainly didn’t.

Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska

Brock was so excited to be my tour guide. Our first stop was Mendenhall Glacier. I had never seen a glacier before! I was amazed. I remember the sun was out and there was a slight chill in the air. I thought it was wild that it was the middle of summer and I was wearing a jacket!

Brock and I in front of Mendenhall Glacier, August 2015

The next week was spent doing all sorts of things I had never experienced before. We went fishing for salmon, which we caught and cooked that night. We ate Pel Menis, Brock’s favorite food, at this little restaurant in downtown Juneau. We saw humpback whales jump out of the water and create the biggest splash I’d ever seen. It was the most amazing week of my life.

Fishing for salmon in Alaska, August 2015

I remember waking up very early to go to the airport the day I was set to leave. It felt like the week had flown by. I hugged Brock so hard. I didn’t want to let go. Goodbyes are always hard in long-distance relationships, but this time felt different. I had this unnerving feeling. I was scared. I remember so clearly thinking, “What if this is the last time I ever get to hug him?” I don’t know why I thought that. Maybe I was overwhelmed with emotions with such a beautiful week coming to an end and our long-distance relationship beginning again. I missed him and I hadn’t even left yet. I hugged him tighter. I kissed him, said goodbye, and walked to my gate not knowing that was the last hug I would ever get from him.

Three weeks later, I got the call that Brock had passed away.

My heart aches when I think back on that moment at the airport. I had no way of knowing that was the last time. How could I? If I had, would I have done something differently? Would I have never left? Would I have made him come with me? The questions have run through my head on countless sleepless nights. I have wrestled with more “what ifs” than I can count. My mind replays that moment over and over again. I can literally feel the warmth of his hug, the touch of his hand holding mine. The ache becomes so real all over again.

There are so many things I wish I would have said or done had I known it was the last time. But there is one thing I would never change.

Booking that flight and going on that adventure was the best decision I ever made. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for the precious memories made on that trip. They are all I have left of the man who stole my heart and forever changed my life.

Life is short. Tomorrow is not promised. You only live once. We hear these sayings the time, but are we really listening? This life is a GIFT and so are the people who are in it. So take advantage of every moment. Experience a new adventure. Try a new food. Quit your job if it’s making you unhappy. Stop waiting and ask him out! Be brave. Start over.

And always, always, always, take the trip.

Love, L.

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