Theresa faltered towards the end, but don’t we all? She started seeing everything as if it were infused with a white glow, as if some talented cameraman racked focus and softened it all with a giant lens. She saw it all in front of her and she saw her son’s white blonde head and she remembered the feeling of Alaska more than anything. The Choose Your Own Adventure that met her at every new birch, fir, hillside, bluff, craggy peak, blueberry bramble, cupola’d church, cabin, yurt, small-town library…All that Alaska was supposed to be was shaking itself in her face at the end. The beauty was in its desolation, its distance, its rolling and rocking and shifting tectonic plates. But if people love you, down below, and can’t see you from afar? If they grow older and grayer and different is it worth it? Are the teal blue waters and the orcas and the blanket tosses high, high up into the unending heaven worth the pain that’s caused down where the hills are older and flatter?
No. This land is always changing. It changes as we change. And it will be here well after we’re gone. It will still be changing after we’ve left. The fact that Theresa and Alex and Ben were able to hold it in their arms, even briefly before they let it escape, was a miracle. And that was enough now.