It was my first time skiing and my last.
I got on the lift and sat down next to a rather frail looking
old man in his 60's. I smiled politely and began studying my
gloved hands when a loud cough interrupted me. I looked over and
saw the poor guy taking a deep breath from his inhaler.
"Are you ok?" I asked.
"These days, girl, no I'm not," he said solemnly, with a
distance in his voice.
"You should be up in a room in the lodge, warm by the fire,"
I said, "instead of catching your death by cold up here."
A light dusting of snow began to fall.
The man looked straight ahead and remained silent for a moment.
He turned back to me after a while and said, "Girl, when you've
lived as long as I have, you learn to take risks. And this
will be my biggest, girl, my biggest."
I was confused. "But what if something happens to you?"
By now the man's dentures were chattering because of the cold.
"I've spent my whole life doing absolutely nothing. Nothing, girl.
I never helped anyone. I was a rich man, I was, and I had
plenty of money. But I never shared it. Not never. I've lived
alone, girl. Sad, alone *cough* *wheeze* Where's my inhaler?
*cough* Here. *gasp* I want to die doing something fun, girl, to
eliminate this aloneness. I want to die happy. That's why I'm
here, girl, that's why I'm here."
This scared me. Thoughts of suicide always scared me. My teeth
were chattering for more than just the cold now. "But why don't
you do something that will help someone? And then die, so you'll
die truly happy?"
"*cough* *gasp* Look, girl, look right here. I have emphysema. I
don't have much to give. No, not much. I can't do anything.
Nothing I can do - *wheeze*"
"Don't you want to at least try? Give it a chance! Please!"
The man was visibly getting angry. "Girl, this ain't none *hack*
of your business."
I was really frustrated. "Yes it is, and you are not going down
this run. You are staying on this lift, going back down to the
lodge, and living the rest of your life helping people. Got
All I got in return was a wheeze and a rude grunt.
The rest of the ride was silent until I saw the top of the
mountain coming up and said to the man, "Well, I'll see you in
heaven, I guess."
The man replied, "I'm not getting off."
I was stupefied. "Y - you're not?"
The man shook his head. "*hack* *gasp* No, girl, I'm not."
"But I thought."
"I thought too, girl, and you know what I thought? You're right
girl. I'm gonna help someone. I'm *hack* gonna *wheeze* *hack*
*cough* my inhaler- *cough* *wheeze* *gasp* I'm gonna live the
rest of my life for others, girl, all for others."
"I'm glad," I replied. And at that moment, I got off the lift
and skied off. I looked back one last time to see the man
shake his head at the lift attendant. And I smiled.
I skied faster and faster, the thoughts racing in my mind as
fast as my body racing in the snow. I was also going to live
my life for others. I w as never going to be like the man on
the lift, hopeless, depressed, suicidal. I would eliminate that
possibility as soon as I got out of the SkiFree resort. I would
ski for the last time, not to give me joy, but to celebrate
living a life of it. I was going to live.
It wasn't supposed to end that way. It was supposed to end in
joy, not sorrow. I was supposed to make it to the bottom of
the hill. I wasn't supposed to see my own bloody leg in the
mouth of a monster. I was supposed to live for others. I want
others to know. at my expense. to live while they can. for
others. it wasn't supposed to happen this way. it wasn't.