Thursday, March 1, 2018


The air was crisp. The temperature hugged zero Celsius. Still an hour until dawn, we boarded the van clutching warm to go containers. We settled into our now familiar seats, unwound scarves, shed jackets, peeled off our gloves and cracked open our containers; the scent of ginger and garlic rose in the steam.  Our guides climbed into the front seat, started the van and headed to Taktsang, the iconic Tiger’s Nest of Bhutan.

One step at a time I told myself. Don’t be afraid. You can do it. Maybe there will be a horse...

I had a great week co-chaperoning the Interim trip to the Bhutan Wilderness. I met some amazing people— Kesang Lee and his troop of guides and camp chefs and staff. I enjoyed time spent with students around the camp fire playing Mafia, on the mountains hiking, in the Monasteries learning and around town soaking in the sacred spaces. The trip was incredible.

It was also physically challenging, Hiking at Himalayan heights—3,120 metres (10,240 ft) at Tiger’s Nest— was hard. Sometimes it’s hard to be last or slowest or least fit. I thought a lot about the “bottom 25%” —kids labeled by data and intervention and legislation. I thought about my own performances— like everyone, I have my strengths. Speed is not one of them. The mountains humbled me. 

I had broken toes on my left foot, blisters and some sort of lump in my heel on my right— hiking hurt. I am not in the best hiking shape at the moment. But I was in better shape than my Dad. He had another round of strokes just after New Year’s day which left his right leg paralyzed. I knew he was still working on standing.  When the hiking got hard, the air thin and my breaths deep, I thought about Dad. I thought about how my legs still work and my lungs still work and my heart still...

Dad passed away this week.

One step at a time I tell myself. Don’t be afraid. Get on that plane. Go.

The air is dry. The temperature is hovering around twenty-two degrees Celsius. We have twenty-five hours of long haul air time ahead of us. I have a bright floral scarf wrapped around me. My son and I are going home. My brother has already arrived. My uncles are enroute. My husband is with my Mom. My family gathers. Teachers, my students and friends— all are holding us close in their hearts. 

It’s going to be a long journey— like a hard hike. I will, I’m sure find myself breathless and heart heavy along the way. But I also know there will be incredible views, crystalline moments and the comfort of family as we come together to celebrate Dad’s life. One step, one story at a time I tell myself. 

Thanks to the team at Two Writing Teachers  for hosting
the annual Slice of Life Story Challenge.  


  1. Lee Ann, My heart aches for you. I love how you thought of your dad during the hike. Those memories, those thoughts will be with you. Hold them close. Step by step, it is a tough journey, my friend. Today is the anniversary of the day I lost my dad eleven years ago. Carry him with you. Sending you love and prayers today. Safe travels.

  2. Lee Ann - my thoughts go out to you! You shared so much in this post - a long journey for sure!
    "I also know there will be incredible views, crystalline moments and the comfort of family as we come together to celebrate Dad’s life. One step, one story at a time" I love these lines they say so much!

  3. Lee Ann, in the midst of your grief you remind me of how we don't know the ways life's hard hikes will prepare us for tomorrow's grief. I'm thinking about you and the long journeys ahead: the flight, the funeral, the grief. No doubt it will be hard, so I hope you feel wrapped in love from those near and far away through it all.

  4. Oh, I love how you wove together the mountain journey and this even-more-difficult one, Lee Ann. I admire how you are able to craft your words so beautifully in the midst of such a difficult time. Thinking of you!

  5. Lee Ann... I read your post this morning and thought about it all day. The way you write about life and the connections you make never cease to inspire and impress. I am holding you and your family in my heart as you undertake this difficult journey.

  6. Lee Ann, I am so sorry about your dad. I am sure it was difficult being so far away. You have woven your thoughts about your struggles and those of your dad's so beautifully...and you even managed to get a teacher-thought in there too! :) Praying for all of you during this time.

  7. Your grit, integrity, and self-less reflection humbles me.