Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holding Fast


If you able to watch GMA this morning, you probably saw our friend Karen James being interviewed by Dianne Sawyer. She has written a book telling the untold story of that fateful trip that ended all three climber's lives.


I am giving away her book to a commenter that would like to read more about this story. If you want to win the book, just tell me so in your comment. The drawing will be done over the weekend and the winner announced Monday, Dec 15th.


The book, "Holding Fast" is a fast easy read that lets you in on the emotions and circumstances that her and the kids were going through during the time of the search. It was very cathartic for me, as well as Rick. This has deeply effected my husband, which in return effects me and I would love to share that part of our life with you, my dear bloggy buddies.


I can only describe what was going on on my side.


It was two years ago yesterday when my husband Rick received the news that his oldest and best friend Kelly was missing on Mt. Hood. Rick answered his phone and I saw his face fall, the color draining out. He got up and went outside to talk. I followed, knowing something wasn't right, running a mental role call of the kids. He turns his back to me and I hear him say he will call them back when he gets to the airport.

"Kelly and Brian are lost on the mountain. We are all flying out today. It's on the news."

I watch him stand in shock and reach out to grab onto him, not exactly sure what "being lost" completely entailed. It was 60 degrees where we were and I had no idea what storm was literally brewing in Oregon.

Rick began to get the suitcases and I immediately had CNN turned on. I unknowingly would not turn off that TV or station until 6 days later.


As we sat and watched the sparsely patched bits of info being given, Rick was on the phone with all his climbing connections and scheduling his flight out to Oregon. I was calmly organizing his suitcase, truly unsure of the magnitude of what was actually transpiring.


It was all so unreal. Kelly was this Adonis specimen and Brian, his climbing partner, was even bigger and more super-human. I was thinking they would be found with everyone fine and we would be at their house for New Year's drinking wine and smoking cigars on their back patio and listening to this latest adventure that made CNN's Developing Story.


I was calm, as I usually am in a crises. All my ER training had prepared me for my meticulous organization and clear head. I was a machine. Until I saw Rick getting out his climbing gear.


"What the hell are you doing?!"

"Just taking my stuff in case I need to help find him."

"You can't climb. You haven't trained. You are not in shape. You will be lost, too."

"I am not going up alone."


I try to remain composed and realize I am about to burst open. As I make my way to the bathroom, I trip over a climbing rope. My sob escapes and I sit on the floor and cry like a baby.


"Promise me you won't go up there to find him!"

He has no response, and just continues to pack.


I now begin to scream, completely shocked at my reaction to seeing his climbing gear being packed.

"We have an anniversary on Wed. You cannot do this to me and the kids. This is stupid."

"I am not going to climb."

His words were flat and I knew he was lying.

At this point, we knew nothing except they were missing and teams of rescuers were being organized to go out in the morning.


I grabbed my phone and went outside to make a call to Sean, another climbing friend.

"Are you going to try to find him?"

"What?"

"Kelly. Are you taking your climbing gear? Are you going to try to find him?"

"Probably not."

"Promise me you won't let Rick climb. He isn't in shape. Even if you have to drug him, don't let him climb. Promise me, Sean."

"I promise. But I am not leaving until tomorrow."


I then called Barry and talked him into going to chaperon my husband. I booked his flight with Rick's and knew Barry would never let Rick climb. I had manipulated some sort of temporary peace for myself and was able to kiss him goodbye and tell him I loved him without completely falling apart.


At midnight I received word that Rick had made it to the Bed and Breakfast where Karen and the kids were staying and he had gotten a room.

"There are 4 news vans here. They keep wanting to talk to me. I have to stay with the kids or in my room. I will call you in the morning."

"Promise me, Rick."

"I love you, Jill. I won't climb."

"Say the words 'I promise'.

" I can't. He's my best friend. He would try to find me if that was me up there. I love you."

I don't think my 'I love you' was audible. It is too hard to talk when the air is knocked out of you.


I finally fell asleep to the droning of CNN reporting the search would resume in the morning and the weather was getting worse.


(To be continued)


38 comments:

J'Ollie Primitives said...

Yi yi yi that is such a freaking scary thought.....I cannot imagine (covering eyes)

nikkicrumpet said...

Oh my goodness...I came over to make a joke about our new cooking show (which I just know would be a big hit!! or at least that you and I would have a hysterical time!!!) And then I read your post. I know this happened awhile ago..but I was freaking out as I read it. My heart goes out to you and your hubby. I can only imagine how scared you were. My dad was a Search and Rescue member for over 25 years. He saw the pain the families went through...and we worried about him everytime he left home on a dangerous search. I must say though that you should be glad you married a REAL man who would sacrifice himself for his friend. Just imagine what he would do for you!

Ronda's Rants said...

I am sorry...how very sad and frightening. I would love to read the book...is it for sale now?

Vinnie Sorce said...

That brings back the memories of when the police came to my dorr to tell me about Stacy's fatal car accident.

THe kids said there was a police car pulling into the driveway and I knew immeadiately what he was going to tell me before he had even parked.

I sent the kids to their rooms and then time just stood still...

There are toms of people with stories that we should all read to remember the important things that slip our minds everyday...

Candid Carrie said...

I read this with my eyes squinting so I didn't have to read the all the words in their full size. Like if I squinted and they got blurry they would be less real to me. To be continued? I don't have to win the book, I can buy it because I must know more. Soon. Hurry and type the second half and then send it to me so I can proof it for you. How's that? Sound like a deal? Because with my anxiety issues I must know more. I can't even watch a television show before I read the paragraph about what happens next.

jsprik said...

omg, i'm on the edge of my seat!! i can't stand the suspense, what happened, what happened??? i want this book!! please!! obviously everything worked out ok, i'm so glad!!!

Misplaced Country Girl said...

I don't know what to say after reading that except, I'm so sorry for the loss of your friends. That must have been a horrible time for you and your family.

Miss Anne said...

I saw this on GMA this morning and did some research the other day when you mentioned it!

I WOULD love to have a chance to read more about it!

Such a sad story.

Annie said...

I cannot imagine being Rick or being you in that situation. I would love to read the book.
Big hugs.

Lori said...

For likely the first time in my life, I am speechless. I can't even imagine.

I would love to read this book.

Megryansmom said...

This brought me to tears.

Tiffany said...

That's terrible. For everyone involved. I know you were worried about Rick and I'm sure he was worried about his friend. Bless all your hearts.

Deb said...

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGHhhh! what? when will you continue?? i guess i never realized you were such an amazing writer. you had me riveted. i can't wait to hear the rest.

and i would love to win the book. i am so sorry for you, your husband, his friends, and their families.

jill! i love you!

Rhonda said...

Wow! How frightening! I would love to read the story and then pass on the book to someone else if I win. Or if someone else wins and want to do that, they could add me to their list.

Soxy Deb said...

Oh crap Jill your making me cry all over my wrapping paper. Don't you know that tape doesn't stick when the paper is wet? Man..

I remember you talking about this story once before, but not in great depths. I would be very interested in hearing the rest of your side and to hear Karens story as well.
The whole thng is so heart breaking.

{{HUGS}}

Janie said...

Oh my God.

I want the book.

hugs to you, girl. I can't even imagine what y'all went through.

Poor Rick. And poor family.

georgie said...

Big Hugs to you and Rick Jill...reading this made me teary eyed all over again-it was like we were sitting at the pool and I could hear you and rick retelling it to me...

I missed Karen on GMA this morning dagumit

Eudea-Mamia said...

Oh Jill. My heart breaks for you and Rick. I remember all that coverage.

I'm so very sorry that you all, and the families, had (have to) to go through such pain.

Em

Bobbi Jo said...

Oh WOW! I am reading it and getting into it and picturing you going through all the emotions and keep reading and TO BE CONTINUED!!!!!!!!!! WHAT? WHAT? This was getting too intense and then that I want to hear the rest. That is petrifying! You poor thing. Please don't hesitate to share with us the rest of the story.Waiting while biting my nails. Hugs, Bobbi Jo

AJ said...

How terrible. I hope that your husband as well as his friend's family has made some sort of peace with his loss. I know that must be very difficult.

Lisa L said...

Jill I am so sorry. My husband lost his best friends, Bob and Peter, when they went down in a News helicopter in Northern Colorado in the early 90's. The chopper went down over a frigid lake near Fort Collins. Peter actually died about 2 years later after a shockingly difficult rehab. He was never the same after the accident(mentally/physically) Still today, Stewart (and I) grieve their loss. I would love to read the book. Hugs to you and your husband...

Swirl Girl said...

wow.
how scary and awful .

anglophilefootballfanatic.com said...

I remember you mentioning this. I'm glad the book helped you find closure. And, I would've been pissed at Rick, too.

Ginger said...

Hi Jill:
When I was in Las Vegas last month I was watching tv and your friend, Karen, was being interviewed on a program (can't remember which one). My heart went out to her.
I agree with what Nikkicrumpet said about Rick...think what he would do for you and the kids, if he was willing to give up his life for his friend.
I would love to read the book, to hear the rest of her story, and see how she has dealt with the loss and how she can function from day to day. I don't know that I could do it.
Ginger

Vinnie Sorce said...

Ginger it's amazing what you can do when you have to...

Debbie said...

This is an amazing story. I would have been just like you. Actually, I probably would have tried to think of anyway in the world to keep my husband from even going.

Dawn said...

Yep, you made me cry. Such a sad story.

I'd love to win that copy.

Cynthia said...

Woah! I remember when all this happened. We were no longer living in Oregon but having been to Mt. Hood in the winter months- I've seen how cold and awful it can be, even when the valleys that surround it are calm and cool.

I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend. I'd love to read the book. Put me in the drawing please.

I can't wait to read YOUR next installment, right here on your blog. Sad and facinating at the same time.

Jenni Jiggety said...

Wow, Jill...I can't wait to read the rest!

Deb said...

Oh Jill. What a story! I am waiting on the edge of my seat!

Sabrae said...

wow... i want a book! i must know what happened!

Lipstick said...

Wow. I don't think I breathed for a second while I read this post.

Loralee and the gang... said...

I found your blog while hopping around - the name caught my eye because my son's imaginary friend's
name is 'BillyBobJoJo'.

Your story struck a cord because about 20 years ago a school teacher client of my husband had some students who were lost up on Mt Hood, our favorite ski destination. I heard the grief-ridden stories about the families who lost children to this beautiful and trecherous mountain. And of course we all heard the news stories about the lost people that you're speaking of. So heartbreaking...

GinGin said...

Jill, I remember hearing of this on the news!! OMG I can't imagine what it was like to go through that for all involved. I would love to read the book. I wish I could have seen this on GMA this morning. Can't wait to hear the rest of the story.

Vodka Mom said...

holy shit. HOLY SHIT!! I remember this....

I don't even know what to say......

Julie said...

OMG. I just cannot imagine what you and Rick were going through...

Yes, I want to read this book badly.

Shelley said...

Yes, I would be interested in reading this book. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of these wonderful people.

careysue said...

It's certainly times like this that time stands still, your whole world is shaken...

Will go read the second part right now.