One More Step
The wind shreds his words, “We’ll be blown off”. But it’s always just one more step. My hands are cold.
On a knife edge of ice, he has the burden of attentiveness. His misstep will pull me off with no warning. Roped together, if I’m blown off, he leaps down the opposite side to save us.
It isn’t fair, this responsibility for us. Yet, we willingly tied together and will share a common outcome. It’s like the crazy intricacy of a marriage. Two are better, stronger, than one, but it’s complicated.
On top I weep frozen tears. We descend into a storm, to another chapter with a different summit, and other tears.
Imagine a triangle representing this mountain.
Here we won’t talk about the bucket named Louie that we pooped in. Or how much better that system was than in the third world where any place is a go. When you are melting a four foot kiddie sled of snow for water every day, it becomes meaningful that the snow you dig is not a lasagna layer of fresh snow and old poop.
We won’t talk about the stark black and whiteness of snow and rock, sub-zero cold, the surge of sensory overload as we are air dropped instantly to the valley among green trees, and blooming flowers, the aquamarines of water, and warmth. Our little triangle mountain.
Instead, take your images of that trip, that mountain, and let it ripple – it’s a reflection, and you are looking at it upside down. The wind stirs its puddle, and you lift your eyes to the real thing.
This mountain, the mountain of my undoing, begins with him, an EMT, first on scene to the car accident that killed his son. Attentiveness becomes less tangible. We are here, there is the obstacle, but who can protect us? In the words of Dylan – “There’s no direction home. It’s a complete unknown.” If only I could clip to a real rope and leap down the other side, to protect him, in the darkness of this valley of layered waste.
A few months later my own son: “He didn’t make it”. The shredding heart screaming, “NO! Not MY son, not him”. The denial is a physical undoing, a ravaging conflagration of nonmaterial storm. Not that I wish this on someone else. This is not a looked for exchange, something I want someone else to bear in my place. Just. Not. Mine. But it is mine. I wonder how much fear you must experience in the Valley of the Shadow of Death before you can feel the sensual lushness of Comfort.
The storm increases. Two cancers. One looked bad but wasn’t, the other has an early termination date. My grandson died, two days after we’d wandered the mountainous spine of Washington for a couple of weeks, looking for beauty, and finding it. This holds the additional, technicolor, helpless desperation of watching my child suffer the grief of losing her child.
The ridge is narrower than we expected. The winds are higher than the forecast predicted. The cold has surpassed the wind-chill charts. My heart is cold. I do not want this summit.
Just one more step.
– Bob Ferrari
Wow! Bob didn’t tell us what he was feeling, he made us feel it for ourselves. This is a wonderful thing, completely different than what the wizard was writing about in this week’s memo when he said, “Don’t put your negative emotions in writing.” Less than 2 minutes of reading caused us to shift our perspective away from small things and contemplate those things in our lives that are truly important. Thank you for this lesson in sharing, Bob. – Indy Beagle “And when the story was finished it made a mantle that covered them all and held them together for a time.” – Cecilia Dart-Thornton, The illmade Mute, p.27