Deep in the Mt. Hood Wilderness, miles from the nearest road, we came upon a pile of sticks heaped inside an unused fire ring. On top of the pile, placed with apparent care, was the photo of Adrianna Ortega-Smith, and the dates: 1996-2021. No eulogy. No explanation. Just the photo and the numerical facts of a life cut way too short.
Back at home, googling down multiple rabbit holes and box canyons has not helped to answer the question of who Adrianna was, what she believed, her dreams for the future, her loves, her passions. Puzzling over the unanswered possibilities, I tell myself that maybe I should just let the Adrianna question lie, accept the enigma of a life unexplained. Then I catch myself and think, “Since when does a life need explaining?” We are born, we live doing the best we can with what we have, and then, inevitably, no matter how much we don’t want to except the irrefutable fact, we die. A life lived is a testament to the beauty of existence, even if temporary, even if miniscule in the grand scheme of the universe. Adrianna mattered. And I love that she came into my life on top of a pile of sticks heaped inside an unused fire ring, deep in the Mt. Hood Wilderness. Rest in peace, Adrianna. Your light still shines.