Iceland Wrap Up & Lessons Learned
I know it’s been awhile so this is going to be a long one! Iceland wrap up, GREAT NEWS, we finished... Our original goal was to raise 50,000 dollars in memory of Jess via the Find the Road as well as the Serene Soldier contributions, between our sales, donations, companies that cut us a check for a percentage of their profits to donate, as well as iFit members running on the Nordic track treadmill, we hit our goal which is incredible! Trust me, there was plenty of tears, screaming, hollering, hugging and dancing in the RV aka Big Bertha, when we caught wind of this information towards the end of our journey!
Iceland was exactly what we thought it was going to be and everything would could have never imagined all at the same time. It seemed surreal until I think the second she hopped on the bike that very first day and we were off just like that. Months of training, preparing, working out, reaching out to sponsors, everything came down to that moment her bike tire hit the pavement that day. I have a journal I kept and wrote in throughout Iceland, about what I was thinking, seeing, what was going on, the weather, everyone’s moods, everything. I haven’t brought myself to open that yet and I don’t know if I can or will for a very long time.
The whole point of this trip was to release. Release the grieving, release the emotions, the negativity surrounding what has just happened, another step forward in the grieving process. NOT forgetting, not leaving her memory behind, but if you were fortunate enough to know Jess she was very matter-of-fact kind of woman. She wouldn’t want anyone mourning, she wouldn’t want tears or anyone sulking over her passing. She’d expect you to move on, be the best version of yourself, set goals and crush them, and top that off with a enjoying time with good friends, family, and a margarita in hand!
That’s what we were trying to do for both ourselves, and her. What we received from Iceland was something I don’t believe could ever simply be captured in words, in a photo, or on film… It was a, “you had to be there moment”, for 2 weeks. I counted on the camera crew to capture the majority of the photos because I needed to just simply live it, Hannah needed to just live it, as did Jeff. Half the moments I felt myself just staring at the road in front of me or out the window of the RV and the hours just rolled by because I was just in my own head, thinking of memories, moments, the kids back home, how we got here, trying to process what happened to our family. How I was ever going to be the same, what it’s going to be like for the boys growing up without their incredible mother. A billion times I pictured her holding my hand asking me to never leave the boys and help raise them, help Jeff, everything we talked about at 3 am everynight because she couldn’t sleep… but at the same time she made me promise not to “give up” my own dream and go be to PA school because she needed me to be able to take care of myself and help with the kiddos in the long run.
Who has that conversation at the age of 24 with one of their best friends/relative? Knowing you’re in a bed, going to die, and asking someone else to help raise your 2 infant children alongside your husband. The strength, courage, and fearless-ness Jess possessed was incredible, admirable, untouchable, unforgettable. She was a warrior, a Serene Soldier, a mother, daughter, sister, cousin, aunt, best friend, mentor. I thought about that moment hourly it felt like while I was there, those conversations, what she’d be thinking of what we’re doing in Iceland. And it repeats in my mind often. I think it always will.
In Iceland the one night I will never forget was us all sitting at the top of a waterfall after a horrid day of mishaps and just pulling out some plastic chairs we found in the “basement” of the RV’s, cooking whatever we had, sitting outside wrapped in 15 layers and lighting a fire log (not for heat but for the whole camping experience) and just staring at the waterfall together, eating, recovering, exhausted, thinking. Sitting next to people that we may or may not have been screaming at each other hours before and just being so at peace was something I’ll never be able to explain in words. We all suffered great losses this year together and individually, but sitting next to each other and feeling that love and comforts by simply just being next to someone not having to speak a word was truly a feeling I will carry with me for the rest of my days. I love these people at their very worst, to their very best unconditionally and they love me the same. How many of your “friends” can you say that about? I’m sure less than a handful, if a single one. And we are all here because of one incredible human, Jessica. Life has a funny way of working like that.
Hannah has YouTube videos recaps that you can see what went on each day if you search Hannah Eden, Find the Road on YouTube they’ll pop right up. Honestly, I’m not ready to write every detail about Iceland because I will have to open up that said journal I kept daily yet. I just got the call yesterday from Meghan and Hannah that the footage of Iceland is available for us to watch and I can’t exactly explain what came over me. I have thought about the footage, I have thought about the trip, I honestly haven’t opened that journal, looked back at the photos, nothing. For me, what I imagined Find the Road was going to be, compared to what it ended up meaning to me was beyond my wildest dreams. I got the closure, I grew up a lot in those few weeks, I learned lessons, I made some choices about my life that I needed to make, I changed my mentality on life in general on that trip. WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT WE WERE TRYING TO DO. It sounds so cliché, I know, trust me..but in reality it’s what happened. Unless you can get there in your own mind, you will really never fully understand what I’m trying to say. I have been told time and time again since Jess’ passing that the mentality I have gained throughout such a tragic life experience at such a young age is so rare, blah blah blah. But know I now know what they’re talking about. It changed who I was, loosing her and the Find the Road journey. We all needed to lean on each other for support, but also we individually fought our own mental, emotional, not to mention the obvious physical battle Hannah endured and myself to some extent.
I will update again soon. At least a monthly update from now on. But I DO want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who donated even a single dollar to Serene Soldier Inc, sent words of encouragement, shared their personal story with us while in Iceland or prior to. As difficult as they were to read, they reminded us why we were there, why Hannah was putting her body through this insane but incredible challenge. It gave us fire and drive when we were exhausted beyond words. I am so so thankful beyond words for everyone who took time out of their busy lives to share their stories and write Hannah and myself those messages and words of encouragement, and donations out of their wallets no matter how big or small. What you all have helped Hannah and myself accomplish means so, so much to us. I wish I could squeeze every single one of you and give you the biggest hug ever. I can’t wait to share with all of you what we have prepared for the Holiday season which is the whole focus of our non-profit and how we’re going to be able to keep Jess’ memory alive in such a positive manner. Remember her, honor her, help others and make a positive impact in their lives, even if it’s just for a day…like we know first hand, those memories live on forever.
Channing turned 3 on August 26th, 2018. Happy and handsome as ever. So so smart and clever. His first soccer game is the first week of October! He talks about Mommy often and says she’s in the sky with the angels and airplanes and he has a very positive and energetic crew and family around him. This kid going to go places in life, and those eyelashes he has like his mommy are going to break some hearts let me tell you! Baby Brayden will be 10 months old on September 29th and also is happy and handsome as can be. He smiles constantly, slightly spoiled and wants to be held 24/7 but I couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather be holding.
Update again soon everyone, forever grateful for the continued love and support.