Tuesday, September 24, 2013


I have not blogged in a very long time.  I am blogging again.
I have a lot of catching up to do.  Life has changed drastically, but I am still trying to live it creatively.  I am including the original story of the Little Cabin on the Trail here so that the story can continue.
The following was written in June of 2013 and originally published on the website Little Cabin on the Trail.

In October of 2011, four crazy families camped in Beartree, Virginia, and started a tradition. Camping at Beartree is real camping.  There are no hook-ups.  There is no cell phone service.  There are bears and raccoons and other critters.  It is wonderful.

We played games and built fires and rode bikes and engaged with one another. In other words, we made memories.  Good memories.  Memories that will truly last a lifetime. 

Some rode the Virginia Creeper Trail for the first time and were hooked!  You could say that our love affair with the trail and the area started that weekend.  For me, personally, it was to be the start of something big.  A small seed was planted that was destined to grow a journey that has only just begun.
Just nine months later, my very world would be shaken so violently that hope would have to be hunted down with an  intensity of new dimension for my survival.  The sudden accidental deaths of my eleven-year-old grandson, Nate, and his friend, Noah, on July 4, 2012 cemented the nagging need I had to discern the purpose of God for what remained of my life.

The tables had been turned on me and my family that day like they had been for so many others.  Gone-at least for a season-were the carefree days of laughter and whimsy.  Profound grief was now my constant companion, and he was an uninvited and unwelcomed guest. 

But there were other children and other memories to be made. There were other broken hearts to be mended.  There was hope yet to be found.
And I prayed.  And when I couldn't pray, others prayed for me and with me.  And my family held on for dear life as we navigated waters uncharted and unfamiliar.  The loss was so very great and the trauma of the accident so very haunting. 

And slowly glimmers of hope did begin to emerge as we allowed ourselves the luxury of enjoying momentary feelings of peace and even pleasure amidst the pain.  Laughter crept in without us noticing from time to time to do her work on our souls. Hard decisions were made by each individual affected by Nate's and Noah's deaths.  They were personal, very personal.

Some would seek times of solitude.  Some would surround themselves with friends and family.  Some would cry a lot.  Some would hold it in.  Some would want to do new things.  Some would want to keep old traditions. 
The family and friends decided.  We would return to Beartree in October 2012.  We would ride the trail.  For Nate.  For all of us. 
The same four families set up camp, but things were not the same.  How could they be?  Nate was missing, and the cold, wet weather added no cheer.  Our intentions toward healing were thwarted with discouragement and doubt. Perhaps this was a tradition that should have been released.
There is, however, something  magical about the spirit of a child and its ability to distract from what should be or could be.  If allowed, it will embrace the wonder of the moment, releasing a contagious hope that is a force to be reckoned with, giving the weak in spirit a reason to at least try what once came effortlessly--mere living.

So we set out for the top of the mountain with what I think were  unrealistic expectations totally based on the assurances of the eternal optimist of the group who discounted the cloudy skies.

He somehow convinced us that the rain would await our arrival at the bottom and greet us then, and only then, with some level of enthusiasm of a wet nature. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens, in its excitement, the rain got confused and showed up several hours early and decided to accompany instead of greet.  How nice.

And lest you think this story has no point related to the Little Cabin on the Trail, I assure you that I am about to arrive at it.  If someone would have asked me what I was passionate about prior to that fateful day, I would have said, "I am passionate about making memories with my family." 
So many of our memories were tied to summers on the lake-- the site of the accident--with friends.  And in October, I was  still very raw, mourning not only the loss of two dear boys, but the loss of our "place" on the water where we had spent years making great memories. 

 I so wanted another place to do that.  I needed another place to do that.  Even if the others could return to the water, and I prayed that they would, I knew that for me, the pain was too great to keep that tradition alive. I did not have the benefit of youthful resilience.

So I began dreaming of a new place of escape from the pressures of our lives.  I wanted to have faith to believe that God would restore a portion of what was taken from my family that day.


And as I came down that trail, on that cold, rainy day in October, I saw her, the Little Cabin on the Trail.  Of course, that was not her name then.  I do believe that my heart skipped a beat--and it was not from the 11-mile exhilarating ride in the rain that it took to get there.


CABIN FOR SALE BY OWNER wasn't just a sign about a piece of real estate for sale.  It was a sign from God.  My merciful God heard my cry for hope, and He sent it to me that day.  That little cabin was "it" and I knew it.
One month later, we were the owners of the Little Cabin on the Trail, and the process of making her our place began.  My husband and I had to compromise on the renovations.  He wanted to go big and add a second story.  I wanted to be able to use the cabin by the summer--of this year.  I loved the cozy charm of its 600 square feet--at least from the outside.  We both agreed that nothing on the inside would remain. 
So as I write this, we are just two weeks away from the year anniversary of the accident that changed our lives.  It has been a tough one with so many firsts without Nate.  He would have loved the Little Cabin on the Trail.  So when we go there, we will try to notice things that would have caught his artist's eye, and we will try to remember the sound of his laughter.

Our crazy group plans on spending the 4th of July there, and we pray that it truly will be a place where memories are made and hearts are healed.

All cabin posts can be found by clicking on the cabin tab at the top of the page or by clicking here.


Deb said...

So good to see you again...

Barbara said...

We drove up to your little cabin n the trail and I just loved it from the beginning. Our son , his wife and their 6 children were on the trail and we wanted to surprise the children so sat there in the van waiting for them. We then decided to walk up the road a little bit so we could see the river. It was so peaceful but at the same time we could hear the water going over the rocks. As we went by your little cabin (I so wanted to peek inside😍). We notice a beautiful sign on the ground. We picked it up and my hubby decided it needed to be hung back up. So now it is back where it should be. Our children came soon after this and loved seeing Nana & Popo there...they are 14, 12 ,9, 7 and 4 and 28 months who were being pulled in a little wagon. They loved the trail. Gob bless you for blessing others!

Denise Voccola said...

I hate that I was not there because I would have loved to invite you in. Thank you for picking up the sign. My husband went there today and said the sign was all full of mud, so he had to clean it. That has never happened. We were told that our flag was on the ground also. There must have been some crazy winds up there! If you head that way again, do drop by!