the writing isn’t on the wall… it’s in the yak shit

29 Dec

Sometimes, no matter what you believe in, whether it’s God or coincidences, or nothing at all, strange things can happen. Strange things happen to me all of the time and I love it.

Lucas and I started our trek in the Himalayan Mountains on an incredibly hot day, ascending 1300m to 3300m by the end of the day. I knew it was going to be difficult. I knew it would push me. I knew, in all of that silence and space, I would think of her.

What I didn’t know is that she would show up. In the form of a tree.

Mom’s favourite tree in the world was the one that sits in her front yard. It blooms every year for a limited time but when it does, it’s rich in pink, soft, exquisite blooms that fall to the ground and leaves bright colour scattered everywhere like an artist gone mad.

We were slowly ascending up a hill (no shit, it’s a mountain), and we turned on a switch back. Lucas saw it first and then I saw it. In the entirety of a forest, dressed in deep greens, ferns, and oak trees, there stood one single tree with pink blooms hugging every inch of branch. It was the only tree without green. The only tree that stood out, dressed in bright pink. The only tree that had well over 100 chick-a-dee like birds in it.

It sang! Oh, did this tree sing, with the lungs of these birds. The vision! The sound! It could not have been more perfectly planned than if it was put there by mom, herself. It had Deborah written all over it and it was like she was there to see me off on my first day.

Naturally, I climbed to the tree’s roots and put some of mom right there under her tree.

It was the only pink tree, in the entire forest and jungle that we came across on our ten day trek. It was the only tree with as many singing birds in it. It was her tree.


Like the tree, she came around in her own way (or is it my way of having her around?) on our second day of trekking. We had just crossed paths with a wild pony and was happily continuing on in the forest. The forest itself was magical in every sense of the word. You could feel every atom in your body tingle with how magic it was. Disney didn’t have shit on it.

Through the forest and out into an open field. The scenery hit me. I felt my body become rigid and I could only think of her and how she deserved this view, this experience. I was stricken with such sorrow in that moment, feeling angry and sad that she would never see what I could see, that I could never share this with her, that I could never bring her to this spot. I was filled with sorrow and stood heartbroken. 

The field was on an incline and at the bottom of a small hill I saw a rock and I pictured her sitting there, looking out towards the mountain edges. I pictured her there with her big, lopsided pointy tail, smiling. The grief started in my stomach and spread itself outward, touching every part of my body. I couldn’t hold it any longer and started to cry.


Now she can enjoy this view from her mossy rock.

I took the tiny container I carry her in out of my bag, held her in my hands and sobbed audibly on the top of this mountain. I held her tight as I marched down to the rocks I pictured her sitting on. I found some soft moss to sprinkle her on and and as I did, the familiar, crushing panic that wells up inside of me when I let the grief come too close, washed over me like a wave. I pictured her sitting there again and my cry become louder.

I slowly got up, closed the container and started walking back to my bag. I reached my bag, put her away and began to catch up with Lucas who was waiting for me just ahead. I was sobbing, and looking pathetic when, in true Deborah fashion, I slipped in a pile of wet mud and Yak shit and fell over right on my ass.

I howled! Here I am, bawling my eyes out, with a snotty, messy nose, on a Himalayan mountain, spreading my mom on moss, just covered in shit and mud. It was hysterical. What bellowed out of me was the hardest laugh I think I have ever had. What a pathetic sight I must have been to Lucas, to anyone who could have seen it. I sat there for a minute, trying to catch my breath from laughing with such fervour, thinking of how utterly silly this looked. I walked away laughing, just waiting for the shit and mud to dry so I could shake it off of my entire right side.

I am more like her than I every thought and if there’s such a thing as “watching over,” then we must have shared this joke. Perfection.


2 Responses to “the writing isn’t on the wall… it’s in the yak shit”

  1. kim December 29, 2013 at 6:50 am #

    I love this story. Mama was laughing along with you. How perfectly perfect.

  2. Pete December 29, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    Good story, Tana. The bests travel stories are about a writer undergoing change, so that she is not the same person at the end as she was at the beginning.

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