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Old 02-18-2004   #1
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 120
accidents, risks, and when bad things happen to good people

Last May my mom died three days before I was to go visit her for Mother's Day. She'd been fighting lung cancer for a year. When I returned home after her funeral, I felt very sad and alone. My good friend David was one of the few people to reach out. He brought over a ridiculous amount of homemade Thai food - he'd recently returned from a year backpacking around the world, and ever since his return I'd enjoyed the rewards of his cooking classes in Thailand.

Six weeks after mom died I fratured my back on Oh Be Joyful creek. Not only did my back hurt, but the injury slowed me down enough to realize that I - all of me - hurt. The day after my accident, there was David, this time cooking up a homemade meal at my house. It sure feels good to be taken care of during these hard times.

This morning I learned that David was caught in an avalanche on sunday while backcountry skiing. Without TV or newspaper, I'm out of the loop and hadn't heard the news stories. He was buried after being swept over 1000 feet downslope, and wasn't breathing when they dug him out, though he was resuscitated. He is on a ventilator with C6-C7 spinal injury, and his prognosis is unclear.

David is not a boater. However, he is the most avid rock climber I've ever met. The recurring theme in our relationship (other than food) has been trying to lure each other into our respective sports. In the process, we've had some neat discussions about systems for rating rivers and routes, how to compete and keep it real, gear, and our sport's communities. We share an innate need to unite with the natural elements. We started telemarking together several years ago, and have had some great ski days together.

Not too long ago I was having dinner with David and some of his climbing friends. They were talking about the web forum "climbingboulder.com" and asked if there was a similar site for kayaking. I said, "Oh yeah, mountainbuzz!" David looked surprised and said "mountainbuns" ??? We all cracked up and agreed that would make a great handle.


I've spent a lot of time since my boating accident thinking about risks and about how quickly things go wrong, even when you are prepared and conservative. I know, accidents happen. But sometimes in our quest to really live, we fail, and are left wondering "what if" and "why?" I've also learned much in the past year about reaching out to people who hurt - not being afraid to say you don't know what to do or say, but that you are there. And how crucial it is to let those you love know it, opening your heart every single day, even if it's in the form of 30 pounds of red curry and sticky rice.

Thanks for being the good people that I've told David all about. Please be careful out there - skiing, boating, whatever. I'll sign off with this, which is the first thing on David's home page...

"Far better to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory, nor defeat." -- Theodore Roosevelt, 1899.


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Old 02-18-2004   #2
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 416
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your not alone....

Hey Claire,

Sorry to hear about Davids accident, as well as yours. I hope your back starts feeling better, and hopefully we will see you on the river. I agree with you though. This last year for me has been a very much one might call "thinking" year. On July 19, while sitting at a party, a rumor came in which noone could really believe. Later that night after a few phone calls the rumor became a reality. A friend of almost everyone in our town, and definetly in our highschool, a recent graduate lost control of his car while coming down from Sunlight Ski Area. I being as young as I am, have never really dealt with death before, and really didnt know how to take it. It was on that very same day that my friend and I ran the Crystal Gorge for the first time, and I remember wondering, how can we drop waterfalls, and run stuff that is supposed to be dangerous, and a young kid can pass away in a car wreck that seems like such a normal everday thing? It is very much mind boggling. Beyond that, this person had a full ride scholorship in wrestling, was on student council, a four year football varsity player, and a role model that almost everyone can look up to! I guess the one closure that I had, and some might think it is a coincidence(spheling), but on that same night, a very close friend and I were sitting at a park looking at the ground holding our tears back, when it seemed almost as a light flashed at the ground. I remember thinking it was a Cop trying to shew us out of the park past curfew again, but right after the light, we both looked up into the stars, and a shooting star that shined brighter then any light any cop can own, flew across the sky and lit up the park. My friend and I looked at eachother in disbelief, and I remember him saying.....I think that was his goodbye.......Just about then, it hit me, but ever since that star, I also Knew that everything would be alright.
Yes being very Tragic indeed, I still wonder, why are we put here on earth. We all have our own beliefs, and hopefully someday I will find the answer.....
As for the rest of the year, School started and yes I was at yet another party. Well turns out the cops came, and we all got busted. I remember stressing out too about all the cops fines and what not, but on the next night another one of my closer friends perished.....It was then that I decided to not stress all the little details in life, and cherish what we have, while we are here......I mean, there really is NO promise of tomarrow. People sometimes ask me why do I (and Us kayakers) Plunge waterfalls, and slide down canyons untouched and not seen by most of the world. I simply tell them, if im meant to go in a kayak, or in a car, then soo be it, but I simply cant let what I think tomarrow will be, affect what there is today....There is no promise, so live it up now.........

I Think since last summer, A lot of my questions have been answered in one way or another, and since then, I feel like I have a better understanding, on whatever it is we were put here to understand....

Thanks for listening.....
Ben Guska[/img]

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Old 02-19-2004   #3
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 113
Claire...I think the new handle is a great way to continue your relationship with your friend. I like it.

As to your statement ....."And how crucial it is to let those you love know it, opening your heart every single day"........oh so true!!!! I have lost both my parents (my mom to lung cancer and dad to a brain stroke) within the past decade. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of all the things I should have said to them and time I should have spent with them as I grew into adulthood. More important....my wife (the lovely and charming she-cat) is fighting cancer tumors and has had two major surgeries within the past six months. It's been one hell of a trip but we both have found each other again in a way like never before and understand and appreciate how life's little storms can have some positive twist. Believe it or not, there are silver linings to the dark clouds. Hang in there and I want to tell you that as a mtnbuzz comrade that we love you.

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Old 02-19-2004   #4
pnw, Washington
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,404
Tomcat, there are some of us that think about the shecat almost everyday and continue to wish her and you the best.
It is unfortunate that life is so full of trials and tests, the longer you live the more you will have. I know that it has added an overall sadness to my life that can't be removed. Makes me appreciate the carefree days of my youth even more and enjoy the good days that I have now. Hopefully everyone will come out ok and have a good summer.
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Old 02-19-2004   #5
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Englewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 882
Claire, I'm truly sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

Join up, suckas.

"People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid."
- Soren Kierkegaard
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Old 02-19-2004   #6
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 120
Thank you for the good thoughts. Tomcat I'm thinking of you and your wife and wish you both well in the healing journey. I too believe in silver linings.

More info on David:

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