The Love of a Thousand Muskoxen: Grieving a Love Lost to Time and Sickness

Longreads

Stephanie Land | Longreads | October 2016 | 14 minutes (3,488 words)

At two in the morning in mid-July, I sat cross-legged, my hands full of lichen, waiting for the caribou to come.

It was my second to last summer in Fairbanks, Alaska, and the light outside was what most people associate with dawn. I wore shorts and a hooded sweatshirt. I sat as still as possible. When the small herd started towards me, I looked back at Whitney for reassurance. He stood about twenty feet behind me in the fenced enclosure, hips cocked to one side, his frame lanky and thin despite his baggy pants and sweatshirt. When he smirked at me, something shifted in my chest.

He was just a teenager—19 and about to begin his second year in a private college on the east coast. I was five years older. I felt so much wiser. We were…

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