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Example for Applicants

Example for Applicants

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Challenge: A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words.
Word Count: 1,011


Thoughts of him drifted through my mind. Thoughts of, why? What if? Where would he be now? Could I have done more? The thoughts overcame me often, but more so, whenever I looked at the picture.

The wilderness was his realm, his domain, and his home. He was a part of nature whenever he was out in it, which was often. It was his teacher, his friend, and at times his adversary. Tyler was more at ease hanging from at thousand-foot cliff than he was amidst the urban sprawl. “Cities were jails to the soul,” he would say. He couldn't wait to escape the confines of Calgary, and make his way to the Rockies. They were an hour away from his home, but that was fifty-nine minutes to long. His senses heightened, his spirits rose, and his tensions abated once in the sanctuary of the mountains.

We often spent time together in remote places, places that only we knew about. It could be hunting the elusive bighorn, fishing an alpine lake, hiking the backcountry, or scaling a mountain. Which is what he loved doing the most. There were few peaks that Tyler’s footprints had not graced. Being an expert climber, he always picked the most challenging route. There were times that I was skeptical, afraid, and wanted to turn back. But his confidence and his leadership always pulled us through. It amazed me at how calm he would be in the most nerve wracking of situations, and then he would come out of it with a smile of exhilaration. "This is living, this is what its all about, it makes you glad that you’re alive" he would say with fervor. I was proud of, and looked up to him. He helped me to become the man that I am today. I owed him adept I couldn't repay. Oh how I wish I could repay it.

Being an avid outdoorsman, Tyler didn’t have much time for women. He could have settled down and gotten married, but that would have mired him. His companion and mistress was Mother Nature. She charmed him with her treasures. Meteor showers at midnight, fresh wolf tracks in the snow, the spray from a hidden waterfall, jagged peaks pushing their way through the clouds at sunset, or ice fishing remote frozen lakes while they hauntingly made cracking sounds. Theses were the places that he wanted to be.

It was mid September. We were on the North route of his favorite mountain. A mountain that we had scaled dozens of times before. The only difference this time, was that he was letting me lead the ascent for the first time. I was nervous, but also confident. I was proud to have his vote of confidence to lead the climb. He had taught me well, so I felt ready for the challenge. Everything was going flawless that day, too flawless you might say. We were three quarters of the way up the final face, when disaster struck. The uppermost camming device had popped out of the fissure that it was wedged in. I had free fallen about ten feet, and then the next cam stopped me from further decent. It wasn’t the first time that this had happened. In fact it was to be expected to happen every once in while. You would collect your bearings, then re-cam and carry on. But this time things were different. When I looked below me at Tyler, he was hanging onto the rope with his bare hand. A sudden wave of panic and fear swept over me. “Are you okay? Where is your belay?” Tyler’s response wasn’t good. “My belay broke off from your free-fall, and my left arm is broken. I’m not sure how long I can hold on.” For a few short moments I didn’t know what to do, then instinct kicked in. I tied off and was down to him in seconds. I frantically worked to get a rope around his waist. I needed to secure him to the main line. He was starting to shake due to the strain of the weight on his arm. I screamed, “Hold on”. But realized that he couldn’t. So I did the only thing that I was able to, and that was to grab onto him as his hand slipped from the rope. I caught hold of him by the back of his jacket. I felt the strain of his weight instantly. I wouldn’t be able to hold onto him long. “Try to turn around and grab onto my rope, we need to tie you off, I can’t hold you for much longer,” But his response made my heart freeze. “I can’t, my broken arm won’t allow me to turn. You will have to let me go. Don’t worry, I can’t think of a better way to go. Being in the place that I love, and being with you.”

How could this be happening? It must be a dream. But I knew it wasn’t. My shoulders were burning, and my hands were shaking. My grip on Tyler’s coat was starting to slip. I wouldn’t be able to hold him much longer. Tyler realized the moment had come for me to let go. “My eyes will be open all the way down, don’t want to miss a thing,” were his final words before I let go. I watched him disappear into the mist below.

Its feels just like it happened yesterday, but nine years have past since that fateful day. I can still see his eyes, hear his voice. There is nobody that I know, who led a fuller life, a life taken before its time. As I sit on top of his favorite mountain, and look at my favorite picture of us, I realize the world isn’t the same without him, but I am a better man because of him. He was such a blessing. My only wish is that this Father’s Day, I would receive a card from my only son Tyler.

A father should never have to bury his son.
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