I have sat down about three times to type this particular blog, and I haven’t been able to. I am going to try this again.
I AM SO ANGRY.
The last few days have been so hard for me. Packing up this house, going through Nick’s belongings, and having no idea where my life is going. I was angry enough when I started packing because most of the shit I was going through were things I told Nick to go through and purge when we moved out of his condo, into this house. He said he would do it later.
I went through pics of his when he was a kid and found so many of him and his Grandparents. I also found so many birthday cards from his Grandparents that he had kept. It made me cry, but it also made me smile. I remember the very first time I ever saw Nick cry was when he took me to meet his Grandparents at their graveside in Ontario. He was so upset because there were no flowers there, so we went back to his Mom’s place, got some flowers and planted them at the cemetery. When Nick was done, he stood up and just completely lost it. He just cried, and I held him for probably five minutes. I fell in love with him, even more, that day because I was able to bear witness a very emotional moment for him and he trusted me. I had no idea in less than a year he would be with them, but something about that brings me peace because he is finally with the family that loved him and free from those in his family that caused him so much anxiety and pain.
A couple of days ago I had Nick’s Avalanche air bag inspected by his friend to make sure it was good for me to use on our birthday. I was not expecting to find what we found. Nick’s trigger cord was broken.
This brought up a lot of questions and a lot of anger.
So much anger and such a feeling of betrayal.
So here is the thing. I learned from Nick’s friends that Nick didn’t have his trigger exposed. It was zipped up. I couldn’t understand this and in an attempt to make me understand his friend said what he thought might have happened was Nick zipped it back up because they were in a heavy tree area and maybe he didn’t want it to get caught and deploy accidently. What an idiot right? Maybe you could say that, but after doing some more digging, I learned that this happens quite often. Nick was not an idiot, he just made a mistake. We all become complacent at times and sometimes we are lucky and sometimes we aren’t.
I spoke to one of the guys that was with Nick that day, and he assured me that they felt they were in a safe place and there is no way Nick would have kept that trigger zipped up if he thought otherwise.
Please let me get one thing straight. As angry as I am and as much as I don’t understand what happened that day, I know that none of those boys went out there expecting Nick to die. I believe in my heart that they thought they were safe. Sure some may look at where they were and say, “how the fuck did they think they were safe?”, but here is the thing, it is so easy for us to arm chair quarter back once shit has hit the fan. Those boys are not the first ones to be in a place that they thought was safe that wasn’t safe, but unfortunately for them, they were one of the unlucky groups who found out that their decision was the wrong one.
Lots of times you don’t, and you ride away thinking you made the right decision, but in reality you just got lucky.
So I am angry for two reasons.
1. Why was Nick’s trigger zipped up? Did he not think it was important enough to have it accessible in case something happened. Did he not think it was important enough for him to come home to me?
2. Why was Nick’s trigger cord broken? When did it break? How did it break? Did he know it was broken? Would the bag have even worked if he tried to deploy it?
The other night I said to myself, “Meg, STOP.”
I couldn’t stop the images going through my head of Nick going to pull his trigger and realizing he couldn’t, and I couldn’t stop thinking that even if he would have had it exposed and pulled it, it might not have deployed because the fucking thing was broken. Or maybe it broke after? But how?
I also reminded myself that Nick didn’t do this on purpose. Nick didn’t do any of this to hurt me. Neither did his friends. I know that the moment Nick realized what was happening he felt sorry. He felt so sorry for what was going to happen to him and to me. I know this because the very first thing I said to those around me after I found out Nick died was, “I need him to know I am not mad.” For some reason, I desperately needed him to know that.
So I sit here, and I try to manage my anger, and I try so hard to work through it because I know it is a useless emotion for me. I can’t change what happened to Nick and my anger is not a healthy emotion. My anger makes me drink, and it makes me want to stay in bed all day, so I don’t have to face what I am feeling.
I have to choose to accept and to love and to share.
I blogged a while back about a friend who told me I had a wound and I had to keep putting pressure on that wound. He was so incredibly right, and sometimes I choose alcohol, or food, or sleeping all day as gauze; but it doesn’t fucking work.
One of the things that is so powerful for me, is sharing Nick’s story. If one person reads this blog and says,
“Holy fuck, I am never keeping my trigger zipped up again,”
– or –
“Wow I am going to make sure I check my bag and all my equipment thoroughly because that five minutes of safety checks could save my life”
THAT will make my absolute day.
Every time I get messages from backcountry users who tell me they have changed part of their practice because of my blog; it gives me so much energy and makes Nick’s death seem less sharp.
Please remember that this is not about placing blame or making people feel guilty for enjoying a sport they love. I will be a hypocrite if that’s what I was trying to do because the plan is to have Nick’s sled fixed so I can ride it and carry on the sport he loved so much.
But I will do as I preach and be trained and prepared.
I am heading up to Gorman tomorrow to visit Nick’s ashes to wish him a Happy Birthday, and I clearly wouldn’t be doing that if I thought snowmobilers were idiots. I have a place in my heart for each and every one of you, and I just want everyone to be as safe as possible.
If you don’t have an avalanche bag, get one. If you do have one, make sure you know how to use it and make sure you check it thoroughly before each trip. I am sure we can all just imagine the holy fuck moment Nick had when he realized he needed it. It breaks my heart to think about it, and my nightmares are back in full force because of it. Nick was buried less than two feet, and that bag would have more than likely saved his life, but he made several mistakes regarding that bag and it was essentially useless for him.
I want you all to know, that I know Nick better than anyone else on this planet and I know for a fact he is not angry that I am sharing his mistakes. He would want this, and he would want everyone to know what he could have done differently.
This is not about judgment, blame, or guilt; this is about learning and this is about coming home.
“Every man’s heart one day beats it’s final beat. His lungs breathe their final breath and if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them bleed deeper in something that’s larger than life, then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized by the storytellers.” – Ultimate Warrior-