01 May 2012

30 Seconds

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I have the book. I've never opened it.

I have every newspaper clipping. I haven't looked at them in years.

The movie came out. I watched the trailer.

I am not sure I will ever be able to watch the movie or even read the book.

* * *

I was drawn for my first Ride the Rockies in 2003, after several years of unsuccessfully trying to be drawn with my adopted son. We fantasized about being the first mother/son team if we could just get drawn. Finally, I was drawn. After he and my adopted daughter both ran away and my brother died in between. I finally would be living my dream. Alone.

2003 RtR

Training was a bear. The weather often didn't cooperate. And it was difficult to stay motivated alone. Always alone. No one in my circle of friends then liked to ride as much as I did. Especially in winter.

I went to Moab in April because I could get in longer rides. The weather was warm. I could take lots of photos. I thought I might feel alive. I could get lots of miles. Lots and lots of miles. June was just around the corner. I needed to be able to ride 107 miles in a day. I was worried. I was stressed. I was alone.

A few days after I got home, I read about Aron Ralston, a member of the same mountain climbing club I’d joined at the request of a friend who didn’t like me going out on my own. I'd enjoyed Aron’s solo trip reports. I thought he was a little crazy. But he was a great writer and photographer. And he often went alone. It could be done.

Aron was in canyon country the same time as me and had been doing the same thing as me – hiking and biking alone. Not telling anyone where he was going, what he would be doing, or when he would be home. I did the very same thing. I stayed on well-tread paths. I came home with both hands. He did not.

Delicate Arch

I had been in shutdown mode for months. It was the only way I could survive. My personal losses were more than I could bear, and yet I knew, somewhere deep inside, I still had a purpose, a life, a chance for happiness. Training for Ride the Rockies had become my entire life because I couldn't deal with the rest. It gave me a goal to work toward. It gave me a reason to get up every morning.

After work the day I learned about Aron, I decided it was time to tackle Mount Evans. I'd never been able to make it to the top on my bike. The road from Echo Lake was still closed for winter, even though it was spring, and darkness would set in before I could get too far, but it was time to take on what at the time was my biggest nemesis. To make it to the top of that mountain on my bike.

I don't think I made it more than about six miles before I broke down and cried. I was crying the entire six miles. But I kept pedaling. Until I couldn't see anymore. And not just because of encroaching darkness. The darkness was what my life had become. There was nothing. Just dark.

alone in the dark

I thought I was crying about the stranger I'd never met. The borderline lunatic and his on-the-edge escapades. I admired his sheer will to live. I wished my brother had possessed it. And then I realized why I was crying.

The grief finally came out. The massive tons of blinding, muting, deafening and stifling grief, pain, sorrow, remorse, shock, denial, desperation and sense of abandonment. Everything I’d been afraid to face – alone – finally enveloped me, right there on the slopes of Mount Evans. In the dark. Alone.

* * *

"127 Hours" must be as good as they say. Watching the trailer took me back to that moment on Mount Evans. As if I'd stepped into a transporter on Star Trek, I was smack dab back on the lonely planet of May 2, 2003. It’s not a place I like. It’s not a place I want to linger.

I was caught off guard by the wall of emotions that overwhelmed me in 30 seconds. So I likely will not watch the movie, my apologies Aron. I’ve got too much to live for now to keep going back to that grisly time and place.

I’m not alone anymore. My kids call once in a blue moon. I have wonderful memories of my awesome brother and his quirky sense of humor. I always make sure someone knows where I'm going now and when I expect to be back. I've turned my nose up at Ride the Rockies on occasion. Rare, but it does happen. I still go to bed crying when I don't get drawn. I have a new cycling opponent... Pikes Peak. Yet I also have a cycling partner. I don't ever have to be alone anymore.

The other day, The Lizard found "127 Hours" in the grocery store. He commented he might like to see it. I shuddered, but said nothing. He has other movies I don't care for, and he watches them while I volunteer on Tuesday nights. He gets what he enjoys, and I don't have to endure what might cause flashbacks, pain and nightmares.

If The Lizard does end up buying the movie, he knows it will be a Tuesday night movie. Because he would never do anything to hurt me. He wants me to be happy.

Aron is happy now, too. He’s got a life. A wife and child, too!

That's enough for me. I don’t need to relive the past anymore. Once was more than enough.



  1. I am not too often at a loss for words but today, reading this post, I am. God Bless

  2. Thanks, Brenda.

    I hope this doesn't sound like I'm depressed; I'm not! I'm very happy. That's why I'm not going to watch the movie or read the book.

    Yet I also hope that by sharing how I got through the darkest time of my life, others might see light at the end of the tunnel, too, and reach for it with all their might.

  3. Just wanted to let you know I was here, I can find any words. Blessings.

  4. I too chose not to watch that movie. My theory, which may very well be wrong, is that having experienced a certain measure of tragedy in one's own life makes it harder to bear the visual representations of the tragedy of others. There seems to be a limit to what we can witness and cope with.

    So glad you're out of the dark and into the sun! And Aron too.

  5. A dark journey for certain. It's a blessing to be on the other side.
    Best to you.

  6. A powerful post. I'm at a loss for words...

    I did watch the movie, partly because of my tendency to do go off solo without a word to anyone. I do carry a "Spot"... but the movie helped me to be a little more cautious.

    Your words are so powerful about that dark place. I'm glad that you're in a light and happier place now.


Dusty words lying under carpets,
seldom heard, well must you keep your secrets
locked inside, hidden deep from view?
You can talk to me... (Stevie Nicks)

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