Early Saturday morning, my husband's best friend (whom we will call MD) decided to descend over a steep ridge on his snowmobile. The snow was fresh and heavy, the day was beautiful. Immediately, he broke off an avalanche behind him. Before he probably literally even knew what was happening, the force of the snow gathering strength behind him snapped his neck and then ragdolled him through the rocks (breaking his ribs and both legs), and on through to the bowl (ie, a valley) where it buried him in four feet of snow.

The friend who went with him had to go a different route down to get to him, but it was too late. MD was dead. The mountain had claimed him.

I live in a small town. Everyone knows everyone. MD used to go visit my dad and stay up late, drinking and talking. My husband went to school with MD's girlfriend of ten years. That night, the friend who had been there, my husband, and I drove MD's truck home for him. His body had to stay the night on the mountain, as conditions were too treacherous to get him out. The night was cold, the sky black and starry. Funny how even when you know it's just a body, you feel sickened that it has to stay all alone with no one that loves it.

While MD's girlfriend broke down, I took their three-year-old son downstairs to play to distract him. He didn't know what had happened yet. Every toy, every book, he showed me was connected to his dad. MD stayed home with the boy while the girlfriend worked. His whole world was gone, and he didn't even know it yet.

My husband does not cry. I have seen him cry once, briefly at a funeral, in the ten years we have been together. He has been a tearful mess. I have been a tearful mess.

My husband went down with two other friends early yesterday (Sunday) morning to watch the sunrise with their friend before the helicopter came to get him off the mountain. They said their good-byes and dug out his sled.

These are the times when one's non-faith is tested, yes? When you know there's no one to listen to your prayers and that your dead has no warm retirement-state-like shangri-la to float off to as an afterlife. They are just dead. Our lives are just precious little blinks that so few see. It's amazing. It's terrible.

MD was thirty-two. I don't worry about death. We all blink out like candles eventually. When we weren't sure how the sequence of events had played out, I did worry he had suffered. I worried he had been hurt, and then he had been buried under snow and had died afraid and cold and unable to breathe. As it is, his last thought was probably one of adrenaline and bliss as he just barely rocketed off a mountainside before being silenced forever.

Good-bye, MD. You were important enough to make a mountain shake.

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Comment by Frink on March 15, 2010 at 8:30pm
Very moving. I'm sorry for your loss.
Comment by James on March 15, 2010 at 10:14pm
So very sorry for the loss of your friend. :( Not to mention his poor GF and son. At least he went having fun though. I send you my best in this tough time.
Comment by Gaytor on March 15, 2010 at 11:36pm
Those who live life the best seem to go first. Thank you for sharing the story.
Comment by Shine on March 16, 2010 at 1:26pm
I'm so sorry for you loss, M. This is a beautifully written tribute to your friend.
Comment by girlatheist on April 4, 2010 at 12:30am
This was a beautiful and moving tribute to a dear friend. I'm so sorry for your loss.

I truly believe that while the person does not actually live on (heaven), they can remain alive through the hearts and minds of those who still live. My mom passed away in 1991. I can still hear her voice and remember her like it was yesterday. In that way, she lives. I know your friend will continue to live in your hearts and minds.
Comment by M on April 5, 2010 at 8:16pm
Thanks, everyone. We're still recovering... My husband can't sleep at night. I keep quiet while all the god-fearing around me go through the grief process. I want them to have whatever makes it easier for them. I'm soothed by my beliefs, they by theirs.

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