Around 8 o’clock Thursday night, I was already in my pj’s and about to start a book, when my doorbell rang repeatedly. J was at work, and M was whaling on his drums, so I got up to answer it. One of the twins from next door stood there. He said, “I know it’s late, but I need to tell you about my father.” As I ushered him in, I asked, “Is Scott okay?” and the twin said, “No. He’s dead.” I quickly ran to get M, and as the other twin showed up, they began to tell us about the events of the previous night.
The twins, their girlfriends, and Scott had gone “4-bying,” their name for mountain crawling, in Scott’s tricked out, yellow Jeep Wrangler. The boys and their dad had done this a hundred times; this was the girls’ first time. And all was well until a brake line got cut and the trip back down the mountain turned into a rollover that ejected everyone but Scott from the Jeep and crushed his skull under the roll bar, killing him instantly. Everyone else walked away with scratches.
I listened, I hugged, and I offered the boys and their mom whatever they needed that I could provide, but there really are never any “right” words in situations like this. They told us they would give us the funeral details soon, and they left. And I spent the rest of the evening in deep thought.
Scott was what could only be described as “a character.” He cussed like 10 sailors, lived loud, played hard, was constantly pulling his Jeep or snowmachine out of some absurd situation, and had an incredibly compassionate heart. He had opinions about everything, and what I thought of as a “cowboy code” of morals he lived by. I always told him that if I ever wrote a book about my life in Alaska, it would be replete with “Scott stories.”
From the moment we moved in next door, he looked out for M and me, even texting me whenever a strange car would show up in my driveway and I wasn’t home. He taught M how to process salmon, how to use a weedeater, how to replace a dryer hose. He offered a male presence to my son until J moved back up here, and then he befriended J as easily as he had us. He treated me with genuine respect and chivalry, all the while spouting his very colorful opinions about everything under the sun, and looked at me with admiration when I disagreed or called his bluff, which I did often, and which his wife found hilarious. I could only take Scott in small doses, and yet, I think he might have been one of my very favorite people.
Someone that loud, that colorful, leaves a huge void when he’s gone, and my heart hurts so for the twins and their mom. Thinking about the difficult time in front of them led me to take a good look at my own life. It felt very cliche, like a bad movie, but the truth is, humans start re-evaluating everything when there’s a loss of life. We just do. So I asked the Lord what he wanted to show me. His answer was J and me.
The last post I wrote (https://pellucere.wordpress.com/2019/07/13/reunited-and-it-feels-so-weird/) addressed my concerns regarding J coming back to Alaska. And I have to say, much of my hesitation was justified; it has not been easy, nor nearly as smooth or rapid as I had hoped. But as I listened to the twins tell me about Scott, it hit me anew how none of us are promised tomorrow. And when the Lord started talking about J and me, he said, “I’m not saying anything is going to happen, so don’t go down that road. But it’s time to let your defenses down and really go a new direction. The old stuff reeeeally doesn’t matter or fit with this new way.” I knew he was right because I so wanted to be able to see a hopeful future, as opposed to an empty one. In order to do so, I would have to trust him. As I surrendered those defenses, I physically felt a mental and spiritual shift (I know that sounds weird. If you haven’t experienced something similar, I don’t know that there’s any way to make you understand it).
About 2:30am, I gave up trying to sleep and woke J. I had called him after the twins left and filled him in, but he got home from work around 1:30 and went straight to bed, so we hadn’t talked. And I needed to talk. It turns out we had similar thoughts and experiences in response to the news. As J said, “If something happened to me, I would want to be missed, not remembered for all the hurt I caused.” He compared our past to a terrible book that no one wants to re-read.
So we both agree that the old book of our lives is finished. It is slammed shut. There are no new chapters to be written in that book, no old ones to be reviewed. Instead, we are to start an entirely new one together, but rather than us writing on the pages, we will let the Lord author our story.
As I’ve written this blog, I’ve realized how unpretty the language is, but maybe that’s okay because the events recorded are not pretty events. The sentences are choppy and stark because the reality is harsh. Even so, I see evidence of beauty for ashes, at least in my own life. And Scott’s family will be all right, eventually. They will find their own beauty. And we will be there for them in any way we can as they search it out.
Thank you, Scott, for your profound impact on all of our lives.