If there was a place my father loved more than anywhere else in the world, it was Miskiania Camp.
It was in his blood to love the place, as it is in mine.
Three short weeks after he died, it would have been his 71st birthday. I decided the closest I could come to being with him that day was to be there, at “Camp”.
It was a cool but beautiful January day, as I headed over for the afternoon. I took a long walk through his favorite pine woods, and then I came inside and made a fire.
As I sat by the fire, I looked through the Camp log books, which chronicle every visitor from 1909 to present. I searched until I found dad’s first visit as a boy, as well as the first time he brought my mother with him. I also noted the first time my brothers and I each made our inaugeral visits to Camp.
Finally, I found his last signature in the book (Thanksgiving weekend of last year), just weeks before he died.
His whole life seemed to be laid out before me in those books. It was inexplicably comforting to have a tangible record of it – of his every visit.
As if I needed proof…
He had been there.
He had loved it there.
I’ve since been back to the Camp a few times. I’ve noticed that with each visit, I feel less sadness and more of a sense of comfort in being there. I’ve come to recognize it is in this place that I feel most connected to him. I feel warmth, love, and appreciation permeate me when I think of my dad there, which is often.
I feel his presence more than his void.
He is there.
He loves it there.
He loves that I love it there.
We will always have that.
I don’t need proof.