Each day, we meet someone extrodinary. We've met cyclists who have been touring for years, retired couples who have packed all their belongings in RVs, First Nations people who have helped us stock our bear canisters with food, construction workers who generously shuttle us past closed roads, small business owners who have filled our water bottles and our hearts, and even sled dog mushers who have taken us out with their pups. Often, when the long road starts to feel monotonous, we'll meet someone that reminds us that the road is so much more than concrete—it's a system of traveling stories.
But, with each person we meet, I often learn of one we never will.
Yesterday, we stealth camped (read: illegally put up a tent) in a road pull off. We awoke startled to the grinding noise of road construction, and jumped out to pack up quickly. When I skirted across the lot to grab our bear canister, a woman driving a roller truck said hello and asked about our journey. I told her about the miles, I told her about Patrick.
She paused for a long while once I told her about Patrick's death. Her daughter Kelsey Lee died this year too. She had a diabetic complication. She was 21.
Kelsey speaks to her, she said. She puts hearts in nature, in the clouds and the rocks. She speaks also through dreams.
We connected through our loss. It was if we'd both come north for the same reason—in hopes that we could redistribute the enormous weight we carry around the vast land, to make our loss a little lighter. While I loved meeting this roller operator, it saddened me to realize that I could never meet Kelsey Lee. That she could never meet Patrick.
I often think about the cyclists I'll never meet: Anne Davis, Jamal Morris, and many others. But I often forget about the amazing humans I could have met in gas stations and at rest stop bathrooms had fate aligned differently.
Each day, we meet someone extrodinary. But each day, we miss meeting one too.