One month ago, on the day on which my father would leave us, it was Orthodox Easter in Ethiopia.
We woke up at 4 in the morning and left the Kokor Lodge, rode 10 minutes in a bajaj, and arrived at the base of the Gheralta Mountains in Tigray. Under the most brilliant night sky of stars and bright moon light, we started a hike straight up through a slit in the ridge, breaking only to catch up our breath to summit before sunrise when the priests and deacons would break the fast with the first bites of injera in an ancient monastery.
I sat out on the ledge that morning, looking out on land where humankind originated - where you can see the beginnings of us all in the traditions, the linens, the spices and the eyes of the people - thinking a few thoughts about where I had come from and where I was going, but mostly present and quietly in awe as I had been so often in the recent weeks.
Later on, after I climbed off that mountain, and made it back to New York, I would write my friend Mike who had shown me the magic of his second home.
“My time in Ethiopia, and throughout southern Africa, has taken on a different meaning in light of what’s happened. It makes those moments hiking for sunrise, or driving hours through otherworldly scenes, all the more magical as they are the last moments before knowing what it is to have real loss arrive at the door. The before to today's after.
One time, during the flight home, I went into the plane bathroom to hide my wet eyes and thought about how every tear I had ever cried was just a complaint until now.
I feel fortunate to have touched and smelled and tasted what many consider to be the birthplace of mankind, before having to face what it is means to be mortal, and to lose a life, so intimately. "
I didn't know in the early hours of April 8 that I was looking up at the million stars you'd soon join.