It’s Wednesday; a beautiful day in Yosemite with flowers blooming, bees buzzing, dogs running and children playing. It’s a huge contrast to the Wednesday of two weeks ago. It’s been fourteen days since I took the ride on the East Ledges. I’m still recovering, healing, getting back to what I was like before. Except, as each day passes I move further away from what was before. I know that I will never be what I was in the past – this is an impossibility, one that we each carry with us as we keep moving forward. And so it is a good thing because with each passing day I’m moving closer to being better, better as a human being, better as myself.
I’m sitting at the tree in El Cap Meadow – the tree where us climbers tend to gather. And it’s a rare moment in time for I am here alone, aside from the life of nature that surrounds me. A bullfrog croaks in the El Cap lake as a nice breeze moves through the grass, the mist from Ribbon Fall sweeps across the trees to the west of El Cap. It is warm in the sun but the shade is working its way across the landscape. I’m sunning my legs until I, too, am consumed by the coolness of the fading light. My left leg, slightly bent at the knee, because I’m yet to be able to straiten it. And I’m taking care not to expose the still tender and pink laceration on my head to the sun so as not to worsen with wear.
Running my fingers over the healing scar I think about the stitches that held the skin together. My flesh, busted open and bruised, exposing the truth of what’s inside. Sewn together so as not to leak out, not to come apart. As the days go by and I encounter more and more people, climbers in the community, friends and heroes and I share my story of near death and disaster they share their own tales. Stories of falls down ice shoots, slips down rock scrambles, falls on rock faces – stories of broken bodies, broken skin and how they were put back together to heal and mend.
As I hear these stories I come to understand that the stitches that held each of us together are more than just medical procedures. They are the part of what hold us all together – to each other – threaded through the community. They are the glimpse of our mortality, the fragility of life, the knots tied at the ends.