It happens, at first sight, or never. If there is ever love possible at first sight, it has to be with the mountains. The places that the mind escapes to, each time, from the everyday is always a mountain for me. There is a music to them, even in the harshness that almost always accompanies them. It is the one place that I feel at home, if I ever do; even though I have never had a home up there.

Another two-months and life would have covered 12-months of time that has gone again, in things we rarely dreamt that we would do, but always feared we would have to, at some point.

In between, we escaped⁠—sometimes out of the sheer desperation of wanting to break the routine ⁠— other times we were lucky to be able to do that at will. We glimpsed what we would love to have; but we had to make peace with plans that kept changing that would not let us have that.

Death, eventually, made its dreaded appearance. It has a cold touch that never lets go. Everything feels so different now. Being the age that I am at, if I do somehow live for long, this is just the beginning of seeing off your loved ones one after the other. And watching, waiting, looking at life slowly slip away from someone—with no means left to express what they feel⁠—is the hardest way to let someone go.

More so when you are the primary caregiver and all the decisions have to be led by you. I was not the closest, but this is my first introduction to survivor’s guilt. I do not know how people who have had it worse live it down.

With an unknown road ahead in life we took the road unknown. Drove thousands of kilometers and found ourselves at home everywhere. We were surprised to find bits of ourselves still alive. Life was not all death certificates, reading vital signs, blood counts and trying for the umpteenth time to understand if there was something we could have done differently.

No matter how you ask the questions, the answers are always the same.

What is gone is gone.

What is done is done.

I have spent a lot of my younger years looking at the ocean and asking questions to it, only to get the answer in the form of the sigh of wave that just came in. Since I grew up next to it, I could not say for sure if that was a love at first sight or if it sang to me. Guess it was more a steady presence, ready to hear my endless questions, in my life.

The mountains, they are a different deal. The day I fell in love with them, I still remember vividly. It literally took my breath away and it immediately felt familiar. I did not know where I was headed in life when it happened. I do not know where we are headed now either. We just keep going.

But, in my mind, I can see the valley in the distance. It is dusk. The village has come to life in it, the houses lit up like hundreds of fireflies. An odd cattle bell goes off somewhere. There is a nip in the air, it may rain again.

The plants still need to be re-potted. We are short on milk. But those are all chores for tomorrow. The room is bathed in the warmth of the tall lamp.

Outside, the mountains sing to you.