I thought I might say something at my dad's funeral, but I didn't know what to say. I read some of the memories my sister had written, and they made me cry, but I was still clueless as to what I should say. Then I realised that I was afraid to remember. I was afraid to remember because then I would realise my loss. Eventually I wrote (and then read) the following:
When I was 6 my dad took me up Mount Cavity. He knew his children well enough to know that it would be a mountain I would love, and Karen would hate, so, I reckon, that is why he took me up there by myself. It was steep, cliffy and there were a lot of rocks.
He had previously been up there, probably when he was around 16, with his brother Stan. Every year dad would take me on a camping trip. We would stop for breakfast at Smitty's, and on these trips my dad would tell me stories about his youth, and about his brother Stan. He had many fond memories of the time he and Stan had spent together in Jasper, but I was always too shy to ask about Stan, who had died before I was born, except on those trips where the conversations naturally flowed.
The hike up the cavity is steep and involves a fair amount of short climbs, but I was fearless. Coming down I grabbed on to a loose rock and slipped. My dad was below me, as he always was, ready to cushion a fall, and he did, but I still ended up with a nasty scrape on my knee. It was about to rain and my dad wanted to get down before the rocks got wet and slippery, So he told me not to look at my knee, gave me an Advil and we carried on down the mountain.
I still have a scar, and remembered that event clearly.
This September, my dad, regressing in health, wrote a bucket list, and on it there was a family trip to the mountains. Thankfully we were all able to make it out to the mountains. We went on three hikes, the last one was up to the Cavity. As we hiked up, we came to the place where I had fallen, some 16 years ago, in a mountain full of rocks, there was something distinct about that place. It was a place where memories had been formed, a place where dad had protected me from greater injury, and got me to get up and press on through the pain. It was also there that I learned the lesson to always check if a rock is secure before using it to bear weight. It was something that my dad had told me before we started on the hike, but a lesson I had to learn on my own and would remember through our future scrambles. Falling did not take away from my confidence in scrambling. I always knew my dad was below me, ready to catch me, and would do everything he could to keep me safe.
"Write every day line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear, for above all else beyond imagination and skill what the world asks of you is courage, courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write bravely then like the hero of the fable your dance will dazzle the world." –Robert MaKee
"My dear young friends, we are a question-asking people because we know that inquiry leads to truth. … Inquiry is the birthplace of testimony. Some might feel embarrassed or unworthy because they have searching questions regarding the gospel, but they needn’t feel that way. Asking questions isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a precursor of growth." -President Dieter F. Uchtdorf