This morning, I dazedly checked my phone and read, "I love you today and all days," written by a dear friend. At first, those words confused me then their meaning came into sharp relief, knocking me out of my sleepy stupor. Today is a special day in my family's history. It is the day my brother, Tim, came into the world. Today we celebrate his birthday even as he has "promoted" to heaven, as Mom says.
This year, we'll gather with close friends, light a Christmas tree on fire in the backyard, love on Tim's son and wife, raise a glass, and share Tim stories. Tim was my adventure pal. There are precious few with whom I'd run a marathon, attempt a high altitude pass that had turned back most others, and ski off cornices. These adventures, respectively, led to 1) a vow that we'd never run another marathon, 2) determining to persevere in the face of altitude sickness, and 3) my ski boot breaking as I landed off the cornice.
Just envisioning each of those three misadventures put a smile on my face. We initially got really amped to run a marathon together. I trained in CA, Tim trained in CT, and we ran one 14 mile course around Lake Quassapaug in preparation. Turns out that was Tim's longest training run and he pulled his groin during the marathon. I was arguably better prepared physically but fell apart emotionally shortly past the finish line. Alas, no more marathons for Team Hiney.
After that, Tim and I brainstormed another grandiose physical feat: mountaineering in India. I'm literally laughing as I type this because we didn't come up with our route until we were in Himachal Pradesh, maps spread out on the hotel floor. Our friend, Bicky, had mountaineered Kang La (Kang Pass) years before and remembered it being a good trip. We nicknamed the trip "Why Like This" because of the adverse weather we encountered. I remember us sitting on blocks of ice, huddled under a ground tarp, blocking out the rain. When I noticed Tim's lips were blue, I said it was time to get moving. The last couple of days before the pass, Tim was eating much and was feeling nauseous. He was still coherent and we decided to push up and over the pass since that was the quickest way to a low altitude. The morning of our final push, we awoke in the wee morning hours to the glacial ice cracking underneath our tent. I'm pretty sure Tim awoke breathing an expletive. I told him to go back to sleep. No such luck. Tim was awake for good. We packed up, geared up, roped up, and climbed up in time for a gorgeous sunrise.
After I moved back to the US, I lived with Tim and his wife, Jess, in Boulder, CO for a brief spell. Tim picked up odd jobs here and there so we got to enjoy some quality ski time together. He pushed me to be a much better and courageous skier which is how I found myself dropping into a bowl off a cornice. Trouble was . . . my ski boots were old, I was inexperienced, and I pulled so far back when I landed that my boot popped open at the front. We couldn't fix it slope side and I couldn't ski in it since it now held me in a precariously backwards position. I took off that ski, Tim hoisted it over his shoulder, and I skied down on one ski. We drove directly to a ski shop to get my new boot/ski setup.
Thinking about precious "Big Man" (yes, there's another story there), I thank God for the adventures we experienced and that Tim pushed me to live life to its fullest. I miss the adventure of parenting with him, pushing our kids to experience physical adventures. I look forward to a celestial reunion and try to live life to its fullest during this in between.