We soar above a bed of cotton candy clouds that appears to go on indefinitely. Above us, cirrus clouds are whipped across the sky. A pastel sunset is painted between the strata, strokes of pink and tangerine perfectly blended into each other. We’re on our way back to Santa Barbara to The Red Thread; to a city we knew but for a single day before we flew urgently back to Seattle for two weeks. We’ve known sadly that this travel home would inevitably come at some point during our journey. Neil’s dad was fighting bravely his battle with cancer, but we knew in our hearts that his time to make the passage from this life and into the next was near. We returned to Seattle to pay our respects to him and to celebrate his life with our family.
Neil’s father was gravely ill when we began our voyage from Seattle at the end of September. We had struggled with our decision to leave, a battle we waged privately together. We worried at times that beginning our journey was a selfish choice, and we grappled with how to balance the emotional turmoil we were experiencing with the weather windows we were facing. We knew that our window of opportunity to sail safely from the Pacific Northwest this season would close imminently if we did not leave when we did. We left with Neil’s father’s encouragement and blessing, and we struggled with worry about him each day.Now, winged vessels take us in a matter of hours a distance it took us a month to sail. The next chapter of our voyage will not involve worrying about his dad’s pain and suffering, the brutal sequelae of cancer. He is freed from that anguish now. In some ways, it feels as if a new chapter of our journey is beginning. Our journey now includes mourning for his passing, especially for Neil. He was close to dad. We grieve for the memories we will not make with him and the stories we will not have an opportunity to share. We carry him with us in photos and reminiscences, in hats and suit jackets, and in tools. He left his greasy fingerprints on our engine when his leathered hands so lovingly taught Neil about diesel mechanics, the trade in which he was a master. I will miss his quirky stories; his bright, handsome smile; and the way he welcomed me into his family as if I had belonged there always. Rest in peace, Terry.