It's been six years since I lost my father, Stanley Lee, on August 12th, 2017. The passage of time has been both a friend and a foe, teaching me to tread a path of resilience in the face of loss. These years have been about seeking positivity while carrying the weight of absence. This week, at my wife Lauren's suggestion, we embarked on a trip to Sunriver, Oregon - a trip that turned out to be more impactful than I had expected, both for our family's healing and journey.
This getaway couldn't have come at a better time. Recovering from physical injuries, like a torn patella tendon and a broken wrist, had postponed our previous vacation plans. But as we cycled through short rides, watched my kids light up with laughter, and undertook a longer cycling journey along the Deschutes River Trail, there was a tangible sense of letting go. The beauty of Oregon's landscapes became a canvas on which we painted new memories, fostering a sense of renewal after the challenges we'd faced.
However, the true highlights of the trip were the simpler moments, etching themselves deeply into my heart. Seeing my daughter Vivian's beaming smile as she rode a pony and my son's sense of accomplishment as he rode and steered a horse by himself were the sparks of genuine happiness.
As I drive home on August 12th, a date that had held pain for years, it now holds the precious memory of my son's words, reminding me that life can be a repository of beautiful moments even after the loss.
My thoughts turned to my father's legacy in the quiet of Oregon's landscape. His wisdom and love have guided me through the darkness of grief. As I walked Grayson and his bike back to the garage, I could not help but be filled with joy as Grayson said, “Dad, riding that horse was the best day of my life!”