This week’s image is one my most popular photos I have taken, one of my personal favorites, and has even gotten some recognition on social media. So why am I revisiting this image? Well I thought I’d dig a little deeper and share some of the story of how this photo came to be in the first place, and how it relates to this week in a bittersweet way.
Three years ago this month my wife Heidi and I applied for and got wilderness permits to do a backpack in Yosemite in July that year. It was a celebration of Heidi beating cancer, and part motivation to get back into shape for both of us. As July arrived we eagerly drove to the trailhead, ready for our trip and all the sights we were about to see, but our first night was a rough one for Heidi. She had been experiencing quite a bit of back pain for several months and sleeping on the hard ground made it significantly worse. The next morning we knew we had to alter our trip plans so we scrapped our backpack and chose to stick around Tuolumne Meadows and explore the area. It ended up being the right blend of relaxation and exploration that we both needed at the time. We were also able to experience a beautiful summer evening in the meadows captured in this image. This trip produced several more of my personal favorite images when we explored Mono Lake, the ghost town Bodie, and Convict Lake in the Eastern Sierra Nevada.
The trip itself was to be our last one together when she was healthy. Little over a month later Heidi’s doctors discovered that her back pain was due to the return of breast cancer. Her cancer battle which we thought she had just finished was moving into round two, it had metastasized in her vertebrae. At the time we were told it was incurable, but had no idea what to expect long-term. No timetables or prognosis was made at that time, but we resolved to keep living our lives and make as many memories together and with our little girls as we could. Heidi fought on for another 18 months after her stage IV diagnosis and did several more trips including a bucket-list/10th anniversary trip to Alaska which was an incredible experience.
As the cancer progressed and the hospitalizations increased we were finally told by her doctors in the fall of 2016 that we were nearing the end. Heidi fought on through the holidays, and nearly all of January last year when she finally passed away a year ago. Whenever I look at this image I am reminded of that trip, knowing that it was a turning point in our lives. It was the last trip we did where neither had to worry ‘Will this be our last trip together?’ But the trip itself was also just a great time with the woman I love. It had many moments I will always cherish and remember when I think of her.
This not the image I had scheduled to feature this week, in fact I had a whole schedule of posts I had planned to publish before reflecting on Heidi’s passing. However the past two weeks have been hard for me to keep focus on anything. I will do another more in-depth post later reflecting on the past year.