We awoke the next morning unscathed, despite our having to cut the previous night’s campfire short from fear of approaching lightning strikes (Aaron tends to view the retreat as cowardly, but I like to think we acted like any rational person would who is sitting atop the highest point in the desert and the lightning strikes the water nearby… I voted to hide).
Once again alone in our landscape, we set to making coffee and a hearty breakfast. Even Xochitl ate well. It may have only been a Cornish game hen, but to her it was a feast beyond compare.
After we ate, it was time.
Aaron pried open the pine box that held Paco’s ashes. I’ve never actually seen anyone’s ashes before, and was surprised at how much they looked like the scenery. You could have broken off a chunk of rock or poured sand in my hands and I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.
I searched through the ashes for proof of Paco, most specifically the titanium pieces that replaced his knees, but everything was the same consistency. Aaron pointed out that they probably sift the large chunks out. I shuddered.
We went down to water’s edge. I climbed atop the dead tree that I associate so much with Paco, and poured half of his ashes in the lake. And then we made Xdog pose in front of the tree in relatively the same position Paco had taken many years before.
The rest of the morning we sat under the shade of a tree and looked out over the lake. We talked about loved ones, the ones we’ve lost, and the ones we will lose someday. I think it's rare to remember to pay homage to the people in our lives who are still around, but we did.
For several hours we continued the meditation begun the day before, though we did break away long enough to take advantage of the lake and drift out atop inflatable pool toys.
Around lunchtime, we had a powwow around the cooler.
"I think we should make a big lunch, go back down to the lake, and then leave when it starts to get dark tonight," Aaron proposed.
"I think we should eat lunch, pack up, and leave," I countered.
"Don't you want to stay any longer?"
"You know, I could always stay at this place longer. I'd love to stay here forever, but I kind of feel like I've accomplished what I've come here to do and it's time to leave now."
He agreed, and, as if on cue, 6 people arrived on our secluded coastline with fishing poles, a jeep drove up, and dark clouds appeared over the mountains, giving us 20 minutes to pack up before the rain began.
I knew, and the desert knew, that it had given us 24 perfect hours to celebrate Paco, and now it was time to move on.