His laughter crackled like a campfire, trickled over dappled streams, whispered in aspen groves, twirled through mountain meadows, reverberated from ridge to ridge. His whole life, he laughed. His eyes twinkled when he laughed with me, as if he delighted in some secret wildflower field in my spirit I had yet to discover.
Memories of those dancing eyes keep me searching, believing.
We loved to hike a ridge near Mt. Shavano, towering above timberline. The trail switch-backed sheer rock; nothing alive there but us. Lungs grasping for elusive air, we’d summit the narrow razor-back. Clear lakes and lofty purple layers, majesty sprawled at our feet as far as the eye could see. How rashly storms gathered, transparent blue skies abruptly thrashed by menacing black clouds. Savoring one last glance at a world so simple, we’d turn and run, recklessly slipping and sliding as lightening waltzed with boulders in the space we’d just left behind.
Death shatters mountain ridges like an explosive strike of lightening, inciting avalanches of insurmountable boulders, cliff faces, and bottomless abysses. My cry ascends like a hawk on swirling winds. Echoes fade. Silence. Call and response of relationship severed.
But, like a cinder kept for the morning campfire, words of a friend painstakingly bend in the dirt, gently blow, and kindle the ember: “I’m picturing your dad, with his amazing smile and wonderful laugh, loving you still.” The spark stirs, flares into a roaring flame. Almost as if he is standing there, the part of him that can never be destroyed. The soul that loves.
Ancient words proclaim that “love is strong as death.” Love, I see now, transcends even the final chasm.