For Ed

Saturday March 9 , 2007

Two weeks ago I was screaming down the mountain just outside of Santa Fe, in New Mexico.

Last weekend I was screaming through Detroit traffic as I ran through three days of client meetings that kept me so busy that I never even saw any of my family while I was there.

That week finished, I came back to school and classes and the "big project" which represents half of the grade for one of my classes. I turned it in on Thursday 4:30, a whole 30 minutes before it was due.

I was supposed to leave right after class for a business meeting the next morning in Denver but that got postponed and it ended up being a good thing, since I was up till four am the night before working on my paper.

I think I’m getting too old for the saying up almost all night thing…

What that did mean was that I got to leave on Friday morning, a day early for our “spring break” and drive the front range of the rockies heading north. I'll be driving behind it on the way home on Tuesday, after a couple of days on the slopes.

Today however, it really snowed for a while and the Mrs was not feeling up to getting on the slope. Neither of us wanted to try and see our way down a white mountain in a white cloud full of white snow. So we chilled. I said that I’d be happy with waiting till the lights came on.

And I was.

But what's this about the lights?

It's Keystone, and it's one of the two ski resorts in Colorado that has night skiing.

In the night you see, when the slopes are well lit, it doesn't matter whether it is snowing or whether you are skiing in a cloud, best of all, you can SEE!

The rental skis were perfect.

Just perfect.

My own skis would have been a disaster in these conditions, in fact I seriously doubt that I’ll ever bother using them again.

Tonight though, I’m dedicating my night to Ed.

His wife called me at 7:20 and the connection was bounced off of Pluto or something and I couldn’t hear a word she said. I hung it up and looked at the time and said to myself, that’s really strange, its 9:20 in Michigan, why is she calling me now?

The phone rang again.

“Hey C, How are ya”

“Not good NSR, Ed died today.”

Six words…

So much life changes in six little words.

I’d bet good money that most of you would probably not think the kinds of things that I did when I heard those six words.

You want to know what I though?

I though it was great that he had listened to me and 3 or 4 years ago picked up a quarter of a million dollars of life insurance so that she could pay off the house and have some cash left over.. if of course . . . anything ever happened…


That’s what I do. I plan around some of life’s what if….

Some people listen, some don’t.

I thought to myself, I’m so glad he’s insured.

Sure it’s going to be painful, and sure it’s going to be tough. But they did the right thing and now she’s going to be ok.

I got out of the Gondola somewhere near 12,000 feet and stepped into the night.

I dropped my skis on the ground and clicked my boots into the bindings, made a left turn and headed down into the night.

I though about Ed on the way down, how he was one of those salt of the earth, hard working kind of guys, who retired just a couple of years ago.

I thought of how this was the second time I’d gotten a call while on vacation from a woman who had just transitioned from wife to widow. The first one had only been retired for 2 months, and now Ed, just two years into his “retirement.”

The ride down took about 7 minutes, the ride up about fifteen to twenty.

I was alone on my next trip up in the gondola, alone with my thoughts, alone in the dark night.

And as I turned down the mountain for my next run I decided to just let it all out and tear on down to the bottom.

Ragged clouds raced across the top of the mountain dropping fresh snow on the runs and whipping the wind across the empty slope. I didn’t care about the wind, and I sure didn’t care about the fresh snow.

I tucked and I turned and I burst around corners in the light cast orange because of my goggles. When I reached the “steep” I decided to go for it, straight down the middle and onto the flats below.

I blew off my speed in a spray of snow, pulled the GPS off my backpack strap and checked the top speed.

I smiled, not because it was a record, but because it was fast and I knew it as it happened. I felt the fast with every ounce of my being.

I don’t know why I do this, but I do. I feel very much alive when I feel the fast. Sometimes I laugh and sometimes I just yell and scream my way down the mountain.

But this night, there was more life in the run, more than the rush of hitting fifty seven miles per hour on thin sheets of fiberglass.

No, it was just one or two more turns later that I came to a steep right turn with a sharp dogleg to the left into one of those sections where the dark of night fell across the trail. It was in fact, a turn into darkness. I blew through the two turns and went right over the dark edge….

into an explosion of light….

as the Saturday night Keystone fireworks show

burst right there in my face.

Although I was tempted, I didn’t bother to stop and watch because I knew that if I kept on going I’d make the gondola for one last run down the mountain.

Besides, how often can you ski into an exploding night sky?

Life is just too short

I skied into a red starburst.

“That one is for you Ed”

I’m about living, and right this minute, I’m doing it as best as I can.