Sept. 1, 2022 — Colebrook was looking over the rest of his summer schedule of work, tennis, and a Labor Day weekend vacation in NYC and said, “Wow, I only have one day off at home until school starts.” He continued to grieve about how much he worked (he pulled his weight at Cherry Republic), how many chores and projects around the house he did (between zero and one), but mostly it was about school and the loss of freedom coming.
It wasn’t long before he started focusing on what he would do on a beautiful Sunday in late August — his last free day. I offered that he could join me on the boat or we could go hang on the beach and hike with the cousins. Steph offered to take him shopping for school clothes in Traverse City. He politely shrugged us off, which made us both pretty curious about what he would do. And when that Sunday morning came, he asked for the truck, grabbed Hawthorn, and off they went to build mountain bike trails on a friend’s property.
I thought they’d be checking in and joining Steph and me in three or four hours. We had a summer downpour. Then it became a hot and muggy 85 degrees. While Steph and I were eating Sunday dinner at Gloria’s, Hawthorn rode his bike from the trail project back to an empty house at 5 o’clock — starving. We picked our youngest up at 6 to go to Thoreson Beach with the cousins, and saw empty boxes of Stouffers. On our way, we detoured to check on Colebrook, still digging out mountain trails. “Bring him these.” I handed Hawthorn a few protein bars before he took off into the steep hills.
It was dark when we arrived home from our beach hike. Colebrook had beaten us home by a few minutes. He was dirty and sweaty and of course starving, but had a glow on his face that showed what 11 hours in the deep woods — mostly alone — meant to this 16 year old with one last chance to do absolutely and exactly what he wanted.