You know it’s funny, the title of this blog is no words and to be honest I am struggling with finding the words to type this one, but at the same time I am so excited to share. I just arrived home from Sylvan Lake about an hour ago, and I really wanted to have a nap because I was up way too late last night, but I just can’t wait to share this story.
Let me first take you back to the evening of February 20, 2016. Kyle, a friend of Nick’s, who I now consider a very valued friend, contacted me to tell me he had heard about Nick and he wanted to let me know he was going to Golden the next morning to get Nick’s sled. I had heard so much about Kyle, but I had never met him or his wife Katie, but not for lack of trying; life just got in the way.
I met Kyle for the first time on February 21, 2016, when I arrived at the shop to see Nick’s sled. From there Kyle, Katie, and I became friends, and I don’t know how I would have made it through a lot of the tough moments without them.
Shortly after Nick died, Kyle connected me with Trish Drinkle who instantly became one of my soul sisters. Trish helped me work through so many of my thoughts, questions, frustrations, and concerns about Nick’s accident and she helped inspire me to be a part of avalanche safety awareness in hopes to encourage snowmobilers to keep up with their training and purchase proper equipment so their backcountry experience can be even better than it already is.
Through Trish, I met Jeremy Hanke. Another person I consider an absolute inspiration and someone I connected with instantly. Like Trish, Jeremy has made his whole life about safety and has had a huge impact on my life. He set a real fire under my ass to take my life back and I also met Jeremy’s sister Leslie who I absolutely adore and who encourages me to keep fighting no matter what. I consider that a two for one. Thanks Trish.
Jeremy created a group shortly after we met that included both victims and survivors of Avalanches. Through this group, I met Erik Anderson. Erik was the first person I had met who openly shared his story of his burial and the death of his friend Chris McCoy back on February 15, 2014. This story touched me in so many ways, and I will never forget that day sitting on my couch reading every word he sent me and feeling so many mixed emotions. The one thing I remember thinking instantly was, I need to meet Chris’s wife. Erik graciously arranged this, and Kathy and I connected on Facebook.
Kathy, and I have had countless conversations on Facebook since July and often talked about meeting up. Our original plan was that I would travel to Sylvan Lake and we would grab a coffee, sit in a park and likely bawl our faces off. I am so glad we didn’t do this.
On October 12th Kathy posted a link on Facebook for the Doc Walker concert in Red Deer and asked if anyone was interested. Well, when I read this post I had chills immediately because I had literally just finished listening to the song “Rocket Girl” and I remembered how the last time I heard that song live, it brought me to tears. I don’t even know why it had such an impact on me, but it did so when I read Kathy’s post about the concert I jumped on it. I couldn’t even believe it. How does that happen?
Last night I met Kathy for the first time when my friend Jennie and I met her at her house to head out to the concert. It felt like we had known each other for years and we just hugged. Even Jennie and her connected right away and it was like we had all been friends forever.
Doc Walker started around 9:30 pm and we never expected what would happen next.
The lead singer Chris mentioned countless times during the show that this tour was all about them sharing more about themselves to their fans and allowing us to get to know them as who they are. About half way through the show they decided to play a song they hadn’t played in seven years and went on to explain it was a song they last sang while touring with Dierks Bentley.
Chris went further into the story and said that this was back in 2009 and they were supposed to open for Dierks Bentley, but they ended up stuck in Golden, B.C as a result of two Avalanches which he explained in a slow and methodical way. He then said, “because that is what happens here in Canada; Avalanches.”
Kathy, Jennie, and I all nearly fell off our chairs. We were stunned and speechless and couldn’t even believe what they had just said. It was clear there was a story behind it and that it was a memory they would never forget. They went on to sing the song, “Trying to get back to you.”
I don’t know if you have heard this song, but it brought Jennie to tears. It likely would have brought Kathy and me to tears as well, but we were too busy looking in the rafters for Nick and Chris because at that moment, there was no doubt in our minds, they were both there with us.
I had butterflies.
This is the chorus of the song:
Everything is in slow motion
No matter what I do
It’s like running under water
Trying to get back, trying to get back to you
I have learned a lot about what it’s like to be in an avalanche and what I have heard and read consistently is that it is like swimming and you are desperately trying to swim to the top of the avalanche to avoid being trapped under debris.
We could barely focus the rest of the show. We had two questions for Doc Walker. Were you really stuck in an Avalanche? And Why haven’t you sang this song for seven years?
It was funny; we needed to ask those questions and we were determined to get the answers. Kathy was a spit fire (one of the things I love about her) and went on a mission after they left the stage. She managed to find one of the group’s staff members and said my friend and I need five minutes with those guys and she explained a bit of our story. The guy said hang on, I will get them, they are already on the bus.
Well, sure enough, Chris and Dave came back in and we were escorted to the back of the venue. We introduced ourselves and had the most genuine interaction with them. I think at first they thought we were just typical groupies but as soon as we explained our story you could tell they were completely touched that we came back to see them. We told them about Chris and Nick and asked them about their experience in Golden. They shared some personal stories with us about that day and some other life changing moments in their life as well. We shared tattoos, had a great hugging session, and took some pictures.
It was so cool, and it did not feel like we were talking to two country stars. It felt like we were talking to two humans who had no idea the impact their choice of set list had on us. We asked them why they decided to play the song and why they hadn’t played it since the tour they were on when they ended up stuck in Golden. Chris said, sometimes songs just don’t end up on the set list. It was literally just a fluke that they played it with us there, and there was no rhyme or reason.
But there was a reason, and we felt it.
They chose the song to be on the set list, which reminded them of the time in Golden, which lead to us to being absolutely blown away.
We overlook so many things in our lives including who we meet, why we met them, experiences that happen because of our meeting and so on and so on.
The beauty and blessing in experiencing a loss like Kathy and I have experienced is that we don’t overlook those moments anymore. In fact we look for them, we notice them, and we feel every ounce of them. Jennie felt it last night too, and I am so glad she was with us for that.
I could go on for hours talking about how great last night was and the similarities Kathy and I have, and how many times we laughed about them last night. I am so glad we didn’t meet for coffee for a good cry session. I am so glad we planned a night out for our first meeting, and I am so glad Chris and Nick found a way to show us they were there and we didn’t even cry once. 😉
Kathy, I knew meeting you for the first time was going to be powerful, but I really underestimated just how powerful. You are a beautiful woman who has experienced such unimaginable loss, and you have had to do it twice now. You have truly been one of my guiding lights through this and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have no doubt Nick and Chris are friends and that brings me so much peace.
Appreciate those you meet and never overlook the meaning behind it all, because as this blog entry has shown, everything happens for a reason and sometimes it’s so magical and can leave you speechless.
ps. have I mentioned lately how much I love country music??? <3