Life seems to have a way of reminding me to keep things in perspective; to remember that there exists a balance between wonderful, devastating, and merely a struggle. Last night my husband and I sat down to dinner feeling as though we’d each had a difficult day. Neither one of us felt devastated, but we both felt a sense of frustration and tension. Our work days had been stressful. He had faced the rigor of sales and keeping clients happy. Me – I was faced with the difficulties of hiring new people, letting others go, and the hope of closing out a school year on a positive note for students, parents and staff. I was soon to be reminded of how inconsequential these issues are when compared with the real world.
As a ski patroller I train with other people to save lives. Certainly most of what we do is to bandage a cut or splint a possible sprain or minor fracture. But at least once a year we are faced with tending to life threatening injuries or issues. In the outdoor industry people get lost, they get hypothermic, they have severe head and/or neck trauma, and they break bones or rupture organs that can quickly become a traumatic scenario.
We train to respond to those injuries. We train as a team, and in that training we form a bond. We develop a connection to each other that is rather difficult to describe. When faced with a situation where another person’s life is in the hands of you and your fellow patrollers, you had better know and trust each other. You must have a more than excellent confidence and knowledge in each other’s abilities, and you require an assurance that you are standing together in this situation as one solid force. It’s not a pretend situation in those moments, it’s real and it’s serious.
The result of that bond makes it that much more difficult when we lose one of our own. Nowadays I get it when police officers lose fellow officers, or when fire fighters don’t make it through that catastrophic house fire down the road. It’s more than devastating. It’s heartbreaking. It’s like losing a part of oneself. After dinner last night, after our own pity parties about the difficulties of our days, I learned that our patrol had lost one of our long time patrollers of forty years. The impact of that loss is huge.
Since I’ve been on patrol we have lost three of our own, three patrollers who were not yet retired, and not yet technically out of commission. All three of those losses have left a hole in our patrol that cannot be filled. These people were still young enough to ski, to take care of others, to work with the team, and to save lives.
My difficulties, my stresses, are pretty minimal. Most of my worries are not going to make or break anyone or anything. I worry about jobs and education and how to make people happy. Losing people we love, people who impact us, help us put all of that into proper perspective. The things I worry about are mere obstructions to daily living. My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have recently lost loved ones, and to my patrol.