The Summer that Zach was away in Patagonia was terrible for me. It was so hard and it changed me forever. His “87 Days Alone” were documented on TV for the whole world to see, but my world was also turned upside down the week that he left. You see, my younger brother was hit by a car when we was crossing the street and killed that week. It was the first time I had ever experienced the death of a loved one. I was alone on our little off-grid homestead in Appleton Maine with 2 children under the age of 5, a handful of goats, pigs and rabbits, and I was navigating grief and despair without any help at all. I didn’t even have a car for 2 weeks.
I had friends checking in on me for the first couple weeks after my brother was taken off life support, but I was, honestly circling depression and the only thing kept me tethered to reality were my children. While Zachary was fishing and building and surviving and finding a renewed connection with God, I was questioning everything in my life that had led me to be in that time and place, feeling more alone than I ever had before. The irony of “Alone” was not lost on me.
After a couple weeks, I sold off all our livestock, abandoned the homestead for the summer and flew with our girls to Seattle to be with what was left of my family for a few weeks. I had my youngest sister’s wedding to officiate, and we had a family-only memorial to deal with.
When Zachary and I were reunited, I didn’t expect that we both would have changed so profoundly. I had no idea what had happened to him in 3 months, and he was equally clueless about what had happened to me. We were both different people, but we tried to come back to our marriage as it was when we left each other on the side of the freeway when my car broke down driving him to the airport. I needed someone strong to hold our family together so I could finally grieve, but he was frail after slowly starving for 87 days. He needed someone strong to mentally bring him out of the woods and nourish his body back to strength. We both needed something from the other that neither of us could provide.
And then the TV show finale aired, and everyone else finally knew what we had known for months, we were suddenly thrust in the spotlight. For Zachary it was a recognition of his hard work and achievements. He went out there to do that for us, for our family. It was never about him. And he was determined to provide for his family. He found his purpose, his calling.
He LOVES the media attention. I on the other hand… Well… I don’t love media attention. I did not want to be in a parade, or newspapers, or on YouTube, or Hulu, or cable TV. But that is exactly where I found myself, at the center of Zach’s attention. I did my best. I tried. I wanted him to succeed. I still want him to succeed. I want him to be happy, I just didn’t want to be involved in the media circus.
I found my strength while he was alone in Patagonia and I was alone in Appleton. I just went in a different direction with it. We got divorced in May of 2018. We are still friends and co-parents. We talk every day, more or less. We support each other and cheer each other on and offer advice when its requested. I want all the best things for Zachary. I even want him to fall in love again when the time is right for him. I’m not jealous of his success, and I won’t be jealous when romance enters his life again. I won’t be jealous if my daughters end up with a new step-mom. The world needs more love in it, not less. I want my children to have lots of loving people in their lives cheering them on and guiding them. I want Zachary to have more loving people in his life cheering him on, too. I’m glad he found Jesus again. I’m glad he has a church and community and fellowship. Like I said, the world can only benefit from more love, not less.
I’m not sure why I felt like saying all of this tonight, and I have no idea if anyone will even read it, but I’m putting it out there just in case.
Be well my friends.