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What I learned this week

Sara Lingafelter
Sara Lingafelter
2 min read

Today I’m phoning it in.  I don’t have it in me to delve deep.  Sunday early in the day, word came of an avalanche at Stevens Pass, with fatalities.  I thought painfully of the loss of the families left behind, and my next thought was of Chris Rudolph, who I guess is most properly called a colleague, through our shared participation in the outdoor industry, although the first word that comes to mine for me is “friend” even though there are many, many folks who get to claim that title in line in front of me.  I thought about what a shitty, shitty day that would be for Chris on a personal level, and sent him a little love.  And then, I tried to turn my attention to the day in front of me, knowing that there’s always a chance an accident like that will hit close to home, but knowing that there is nothing to do but say prayers to whatever God or spirit we find comfort in, to comfort those left behind.

It was about 6pm when Teresa called and we chit-chatted about the day and at some point when discussing what we’d heard from Stevens and the avy at Alpental, she asked what my friend’s name was, who we’d hung out with one of the times we’d been to Stevens.  I thought for a second, said, “Oh, Chris Rudolph…” and that I’d been thinking about him all day, and what a shitty day he must be having.  Teresa asked me where I was, and if my boyfriend was there, then told me as gently and lovingly and hopefully that the information we’d received was wrong as a best friend could, that Chris was one of the skiers lost in the avy.  She’s been the loving bearer of bad news before, and I don’t envy her this particular role in my life but I do love her for it.

Dinner plans with loving friends started late and with a short conversation about how much this sucks.  Charlie, working at our neighborhood haunt last night made my wine pours a little larger than usual, I think.  The news spread quickly through our not-so-small community, and Chris’s smiling face makes up every other photo in my Facebook newsfeed and I can’t stop thinking about the people who weren’t just “colleagues” or “acquaintances” because if I feel like this, I can’t really imagine their pain and loss.  I’m not interested in talking about relative risk or comfort in knowing someone lived life fully.  When it’s this close to home, there just isn’t comfort.

The only sense I can make is to appreciate that merely knowing Chris made him more than an acquaintance, more than a colleague — made him a friend.  And we should all aspire to live with the kind of whole hearted enthusiasm and joy and camaraderie Chris brought into the world.  My saddest, deepest condolences to the loved ones of all of those lost yesterday, and to the rest of the skiers who were out there.  And Chris – rest in peace, surrounded by music and laughter and camaraderie and joy.

Sara Lingafelter

Sara (Grace) Lingafelter takes steps forward and backward toward a right-sized life on a daily basis.