This is the script from the last few minutes of the movie, Wild, about Cheryl Strayed’s journey through grief – as experienced along a grueling, 1,100-mile hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. I almost have it memorized. In this scene, Cheryl meets a little boy and his grandma on a hike in the rainy forest. She’s almost to her final destination. The precocious boy offers to sing a song his mother taught him for Cheryl, and does, and that was all it took for her to fall to her knees.
I watch this scene when I’m needing something. I’ve never been quite sure what draws me to it or why. Maybe it’s a reminder of someone’s else’s triumphs through very hard things. There are some beautiful words below – spoken by Cheryl as she finally gets there.
There’s no way to know what makes one thing happen and not another. What leads to what. What destroys what. What causes what to flourish or die or take another course.
What if I forgive myself?
What if I was sorry?
But if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t do a single thing differently.
What if all those things I did were the things that got me here?
What if – I was never redeemed?
What if I already was?
It took me years to be the woman my mother raised. It took me 4 years, 7 months, and 3 days to do it. Without her.
After I lost myself in the wilderness of my grief, I found my own way out of the woods.
And I didn’t even know where I was going until I got there on the last day of my hike.
Thank you, I thought, over and over again. For everything the trail had taught me and everything I couldn’t yet know.
How in four years, I’d cross this very bridge and marry a man in a spot almost visible from where I was standing.
How in 9 years, that man and I would have a son named carver. And a year later, a daughter named after my mother, Bobbie.
I knew only that I didn’t need to reach with my bare hands anymore. That seeing the fish beneath the surface of the water was enough. That it was everything.
My life, like all lives, mysterious, irrevocable and sacred. So very close. So very present. So very belonging to me.
How wild it was to let it be.