To celebrate the month of love, we’re sharing stories of Better Place Forests customers that have chosen to live Together Forever in one of our forests. David and Vanessa had other end-of-life plans — until they met each other. Ready to write their own story, they found Better Place Forests Flagstaff and began to create a legacy that spoke to both of them. We sat down with Vanessa and David to learn why they chose Flagstaff and what spending eternity in the forest means to one another.
Vanessa and David on their wedding day
Finding the one
Vanessa and David met in Upstate New York at a house party that David’s cousin throws every September. A school teacher at the time, David didn’t usually attend the event, but this year he said “You know what? I'm going to put the schoolwork away, and I hopped in the car and drove up.” Little did David know, his future wife was already there, setting up for the guests and asking David’s cousin if any eligible bachelors would be attending. When David arrived his cousin introduced the two. “We hit it off pretty much right away. We were chatting and talking, we had a lot of things in common. Our goals for the future seemed to be the same. And the rest is history,” said David.
Vanessa and David became inseparable — traveling the country and exploring the wilderness of the west coast together. On one of their first trips, to the Redwoods in Northern California, marriage came up. “It was just something that kind of came up when we were walking around and enjoying the absolute beauty of the redwood forests,” David said. “And then he proposed when we were having a picnic in a park just outside of Albany. They have this flat area where we were having a picnic there and that's where he proposed,” said Vanessa. Both lovers of the outdoors, the two have since been to Acadia National Park, Oregon Pipe National Monument, and moved out west to Arizona — a lifelong dream of David’s.
The two knew they wanted to spend their lives together, but talk of the afterlife didn’t come up until later. “I had specific plans set for my final wishes and Vanessa had plans for her final wishes, and they were not the same. It didn't make a difference at the time. Because back then, when you first meet someone, and you fall in love, it's just not the topic that you bring up at dinner,” David said.
Vanessa and David on vacation
Choosing eternity in the forest
Due to religion and other factors, Vanessa and David’s existing end-of-life plans wouldn’t allow the two to spend eternity together. Determined to find a solution, David found Better Place Forests and shared it with Vanessa. “So I said to her, I found this, I think it might be the perfect blending, if you will, of both of our desires and our wishes for our final resting places. And she loves the outdoors. She loves green and plants and forests and so forth. And it just made sense that I would cancel my East Coast plans and develop these new plans out here,” said David.
Vanessa loved the idea of being a part of nature and continuing this new cycle of life together. “It really was the perfect blend for both of us. We came from two different ideas and Better Place Forests had elements of each where we could be somewhere together. The more we got into it with choosing the tree and the view that the tree had, we just fell in love with the idea,” Vanessa said.
Vanessa admits that this is usually a hard conversation for her to have. “I always get emotional and teary-eyed whenever we would talk about this. So I was kind of nervous to make that first phone call,” she said. “The staff that was on the call with us while we were choosing everything really was so comforting that it made the process very comfortable and easy, much easier than it would be expected. And for me, it was kind of special to see the view from what the tree would see. That was really special, to kind of see what we would see down the road.”
“I had never realized that Northern Arizona was such an amazing part of the country, which looks very much like Northern New York State. The trees and the beauty were just amazing. All I'd ever seen of Arizona was the Phoenix area. I've never been anyplace else,” David said.
The two are happy to have found a solution that allows them to share their final resting place — and accommodate their seven pets. “It's an opportunity to share common interests, even after we’re gone. And someplace that visitors will also be able to enjoy, as opposed to the typical cemetery scenario,” David said. “The thought of being able to continue to share that in whatever is on the other side. It's sharing life and afterlife together in a very beautiful and serene and calm, relaxed environment.”
If you’re ready to make your end-of-life plans, book a free online forest tour with one of our advisors. We’re here to help you create a legacy that’s meaningful to you and the people you love.