Oh wow. It really has been too long. I posted last in January... and it was a post about September...
Honestly, I think the main reason I took such a long break was because I wasn't quite ready to write this next post. The post about rock climbing in Upstate New York, the "Gunks". The post about the people I met there, fellow cancer survivors, and what the time with those people meant to me. The post about my dear friend, Tikvah, who was supposed to be on that trip with me. The post about my last conversation with her, the conversation I knew would be the last we would have in this life. And the post about how she passed away, surrounded by family in Seattle, while I was climbing the hardest route I had ever climbed, surrounded by people who knew exactly what I was losing and how I was feeling.
I broke down at the top of that climb. I had learned the day before that Tikvah, surrounded by family and friends, had said goodbye and that they were waiting for her to pass on. I was overwhelmed, knowing that she would soon be gone while I lived on to climb another pitch, laugh with friends, dream and grow old with my husband, and watch my sweet baby boy grow up. I was hurt, knowing that she should have been there, cheering me through that difficult climb where I scraped my knuckles, bashed my head, and nearly gave up. But somehow I made it up that climb, and immediately broke into sobs.
When we got back to the house that evening, I learned that she passed away just around the time I was on that difficult climb. And as terribly sad that I was, I was so grateful to be with my First Descents family, one that understood my pain without speaking it, without having to offer empty words. I was so honored to be in the company of those brave men and women who had endured so much, who felt Tikvah's pain, and comprehended my loss.
I am so grateful to have known Tiki, even if just for a short time. She was a bright light, a wonderful friend, a naturally gifted climber, and a perfectly beautiful soul. I live on to climb again, and her spirit lives on to cheer me up the mountain.
At the top of the climb, after the tears were wiped away.
Puzzling with "Swifty." The night after Tikvah passed, when the largest wave of tears had passed, Swifty stayed up late with me, puzzling, drinking peppermint tea, and simply allowing me to exist in the pain of my loss. So grateful for his friendship.
Pictures from the First Descents camp in Moab where we first met. September 2012
We called her "Spider Monkey" because she took to climbing so well.
Beautiful, beautiful girl.