The Grand Canyon Responds

I spent last week in Sedona, Arizona, with my cousins who invited me to join them at their timeshare there. Situated in the beautiful red rock country of Arizona, Sedona delights all of the senses. The weather was sunny and cool, allowing us to take advantage of  the area’s alluring charm and beauty. Not to sell short Sedona’s appeal, a highlight of the week was riding the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams to the Grand Canyon.

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Standing at the rim of the Grand Canyon, mesmerized by its vastness beneath a brilliant blue sky, I thought of my friend, Mark, who visited there in the fall of 1992 after the death from AIDS of his partner, Philip. I was new to the travel business and Mark was one of my first clients. After Philip’s death, Mark told me he wanted a get away by himself to spend some time adjusting to his loss. When he said he wanted to do a cruise, I suggested that a cruise would probably not provide the experience he was seeking. Mark asked me to make a recommendation.

I suggested a train trip to the Grand Canyon, a place I thought would offer Mark the change he sought as well as the privacy I felt he needed to process his loss. He could take the train from Pasadena and spend several nights at El Tovar on the rim of the canyon. Mark thought the plan sounded good and asked me to make reservations for him.

On the night Mark left Pasadena, several of his friends and I met him at the station, where we gave him our good wishes and a basket full of things we thought he needed for entertainment on the overnight train trip.

Two days later, Mark phoned. “I just wanted to tell you,” he said, “that I awoke this morning and looked out of the window of my room to an exquisite view of the Grand Canyon. Dennis, it’s like the earth is responding to the enormity of my grief.”

I didn’t stay long in the travel business, but the memory of Mark’s trip to the Grand Canyon will stay with me forever.

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