Posted by: Kimberly Dredger | September 22, 2010

September 26

From my window I see the full, rounded, high belly of Mount Jumbo, the mountain named for an elephant.  This elephantine slope is carpeted with golden autumn grasses, and backed by the beautiful blue of Montana sky.  Autumn in Montana is heartbreakingly beautiful.  And so it remains for me, despite my sad memories.

Twenty three years ago I had a very bad cold that had settled in my throat, and as always happens in such cases, I lost my voice entirely.  My husband, Jimmy, had a fishing trip planned, with two buddies.  He left in the wee hours of the morning, after kissing me good-bye, and he chuckled as he went out the door, chuckled at my croaking voice.  He never came back.

Jimmy was struck by lightning that afternoon, and killed.  We had been married two years, one month and sixteen days.  If there was comfort to be had in the long, dreadful months and years following his death, it was in the fact that Jimmy and I never lost a chance to say “I love you” to each other.  We did not waste the fact that we were young and in love and had a glorious life.  And I know in my heart of hearts that it was Jimmy, pulling strings in Heaven, who led me to meet and marry Jim, the wonderful man I have now been married to for almost twenty years.  

Why am I telling you this now?  Well, it seems to me that there is a lesson to be learned here that in some ways parallels the reason I have begun my project of raising money for the Reeve Foundation.  We are such very fragile beings.  Humans are just fragile.  Jimmy was killed by one of the most powerful forces of nature, but it doesn’t take lightning to kill us or damage us.  We can hurt ourselves irreparably simply stepping wrong off a curb.  We can damage ourselves so very easily.  And we die when it is our day to die, whether it is walking across the street, fighting in a war, or fishing on a beautiful Montana lake.  We die when it is our day, and that day might be next week, or tomorrow, or in this very next instant.  And so, why am I saying this?  Don’t waste time.  Tell your family you love them NOW.  Grab up your child, your spouse, your best friend RIGHT NOW and say, “Honey, I love you.  You make my life truly blessed.  Thank you for being a part of my life.”  Do it now.

Twenty-three years ago my brother David wrote the following poem.  It is one of my treasures, because this is exactly the way Jimmy would have sounded.

Jim’s Future Sky
By Dave Ellen

Pull your lines and gear, my friends,
A storm is rising fast.
And from the screechin’ of  the wind
I’d say it means to last.

Hunker down there in the bow,
And cover up your heads.
I’ll just point her in to shore,
And we’ll go home instead.

And throw that tarp on, too, my friends:
This storm is lookin’ bad.
But take the time to think RIGHT NOW
Of all the fun we had.

I’ll steer a steady course for home;
The tiller’s in my hand.
I’ll keep her goin’ straight and true
Until we reach the land.

It won’t take long, you’ll see, my friends…
…Now I just think I’ll dream…
I’ll dream of all the things I love: 
The forest and the stream,

My rod and gun and boat and dog,
Little daughters and my wife.
I know the way I live each day
Is proof I love this life!

And Dad and Mom – the list goes on –
There is so much to love…
A wedge of geese is heading south;
Do you hear them up above?

I want to do it all again.
I love this life, I do!
You still have the time – this storm can’t last…
The future sky
                   Is blue.
 

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