Emotional Return to Jackson Hole
Getting Closure: Fifteen Years Later
Emotional Return To Jackson Hole
As surprising as it might sound, my husband and I wanted to go back to Jackson Hole to revisit the scene of our accident. Fifteen years had passed and we felt a return trip would provide some closure.
As written about in the articles above this one, a 50th wedding anniversary celebration for my mother and father-in-law went horribly wrong. It’s taken years for our family to put the pieces of our lives back together – hopes and dreams were initially shattered, as the old wagon wheels carrying nine of us slammed into the waters of a raging whitewater creek.
To Go Or Not To Go
Every time the topic of a vacation back to Jackson Hole came up, I chickened out when it came to making the arrangements. Sometimes I even cried thinking about it.
Could I handle it? How would I feel when I stepped onto the same ground that caused so much anguish?
I just emotionally wasn’t ready to go … until June 2012. Even writing about it is hard.
As the days grew closer when we were to fly to Jackson Hole, I had to give myself several pep talks:
I can do this!
We needed the closure, but it was going to open some emotional wounds.
Jackson Hole: A Vacation Lover’s Dream
My husband and I worked out a great plan. Since we were spending four days in Jackson Hole, the first three would be spent enjoying all the beautiful town has to offer.
We decided that on the actual anniversary date, June 21st, we would head back to the ranch and to the scene of our accident.
Jackson Hole is as beautiful as ever, just a lot more traffic. We took lots of pictures and browsed through the cute little shops in town. Everyone is very friendly there, the locals and the tourists alike. We stayed at a great, scenic hotel. Wonderful food and accommodations helped keep our minds off the “visit” to come.
God is an Awesome God
One of the most breathtaking moments for me was taking the sky ride up to Rendezvous Mountain. Such exquisite beauty here – God’s awesome creation.
Once we got to the top, we were able to get off the ride and walk around. We took lots of pictures and sat around for awhile before we had to leave. I’ve never felt so close to the God of the Universe. I thought about Moses in the Bible being on a mountain in the presence of God.
My husband and I prayed together, right there on top of the mountain. It was a touching moment that I will never forget. To be there and pray out loud to the God of Heaven and Earth, filled me with such a sense of gratitude and humility, that it’s hard to put into words.
We thanked Him for our lives and that we would be able to see our beloved niece again in Heaven.
That night, I wondered if I was going to get any sleep. A big day ahead.
A Defining Moment
The next morning, the 21st, we woke up with a sense of “something else big is about to happen.” We got in our rental car and drove about an hour to the accident scene that, many years earlier, became THE defining moment of my life.
As we drove, it all started coming back to me – familiar terrain and road signs. All gave me a sense of it’s too late to turn back now. We passed a little floral shop and stopped in to buy some roses for our niece. I started to get teary eyed as memories came flooding back.
We pulled into the ranch and drove down the long road to the main house.
There it was.
The Old Porch Swing
I remembered thinking how different and yet the same everything looked. The trees were overgrown, campers were milling around everywhere, busy with their own activities. Possibly the biggest numbing feeling I had, was seeing the old porch swing in front.
Looking at it took me back to that fateful day. The wagon ended up in the whitewater creek and we were all feeling the shock. We needed help and slowly made our way back to the main cabins. My nephew carefully led me from the rescue vehicle, limping and bruised, to that porch swing where I lay for what seemed like hours while everyone was trying to find my missing niece. Search parties scattered everywhere, covering every inch of the woods and the creek.
I pleaded with God on that porch swing so long ago. I literally begged Him that searchers would be able to find her. Over and over I pleaded with Him. I couldn’t walk since I had broken bones. So I lay there broken in spirit and all alone. If you read my other article, you know that hours later, searchers found my niece and she had drowned. It was devastating news.
Closure Brings Healing
We walked past the porch swing and made our way to the office to ask permission from the new owners to go to the accident scene and lay flowers. They were very kind. After a short visit, we got in our car and drove along the rocky trail to the edge of the creek.
It was there that every single memory hit me like a truck. As I stared out the car window, I couldn’t help but look at the trail and think about what happened there.
How life can change in an instant. What a wake up call it was for me. We picked up the tiny pink roses and lay the flowers on one of the large rocks.
These are for you, sweet girl. You’re in our hearts and we will see you again.
Have You Thanked Him Yet?
This is my Christian testimony. Life has thrown us a lot of curve balls, some of which are hard to even talk about.
Are we mad at God? Absolutely not! We praise Him knowing that He never left us during this difficult time.
Thing is, as believers, we were never promised an easy life. Why do so many people misunderstand that? Why do so many blame God when something bad happens to them? No one, not any believer of any faith, has a free pass. It’s a harsh reality of living in a sinful world.
God promised to never leave our side. We should all acknowledge and honor Him for the many blessings He’s given us. We can pray in Thanksgiving. There is comfort in that.
The loneliest time I spent on that porch swing – was later filled as my husband and I saw evidence of His Grace in the loving support we received from many friends, a local pastor in town, and more.
I urge you to remember that we’re on this earth for just a little while. Please don’t ever take your life for granted. You don’t know what could happen tomorrow. Cherish the ones who love you and pray for the ones who don’t. God gave them to you, and you to them.
Have you thanked Him yet?