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Russell Shaw

Russell Shaw

Posted: December 8, 2006 06:20 PM

What We All Can Learn From James Kim


I write this not as someone who draws paychecks from CNet, the same employer James Kim did.

I write this as someone who draws air from the same planet that James Kim did.

A planet where the ultimate expression of a husband's and father's love is available to be expressed, but seldom is.

And it is that which we can learn from James Kim.

When James Kim concluded that a week without rescue in the snowy and impassable Southwest Oregon wilderness would likely mean no rescue at all, he committed an act of transcendent eloquence.

Perhaps he should have stayed in the car, but that's not the point here.

For we are considering James Kim as a human being, not as an outdoorsman.

So the story begins.

Clad in tennis shoes and clothing that provided little real shelter against the elements, James decided to leave his wife and two young daughters and set out in search of help.

Those first steps were the most eloquent expressions of a husband's and father's love that I could imagine.

And as to the steps immediately following, I can imagine him noting the disapperance of his family from view. But he was focused on finding help. Help that would keep his wife and daughters in this wonderful life they've led.

On and on he walked. Thousands of steps, through the snow, cold and ice, the angry, cutting wetness and steep switchbacks of a December day in the harsh, ice-cliffed high hills.

The first night. I do wonder how he slept, and if his sleep was broken by the calls of animals, some apathetic to his presence, some welcoming but for the wrong reasons.

There was little moon. That we know. Not much clear sky. Heaven? Who knows.

But then came the next morning, and the walk to save his family continued. At this point, his clothes must have been rotting wet with the freeze of the elements.

But no time for discomfort. Listen hard. Is that a river? Walk this way. No, just a short brook that leads nowhere. Not to the lodge on the map.

What about if I walk this direction that the map shows? Too many trees to see through, too many cliffs that can't be climbed or even circumvented.

It's getting late again. Has my family been rescued? Are they even alive?

Kati? Penelope? Sabine? I love you all, sweetheart, he must have said, hoping that the breeze that had just ripped through his wet clothes would be able to carry thoughts as well as scattered leaves with it.

And on he trekked, on a path, he hoped, toward the shuttered Black Bar Lodge.

He found the creek. A three-foot deep creek that, he assumed, would lead him to the Rogue River and to the Lodge.

One tentative step successfully negotiated after the other.

Until there was one step that ....

Although James and I shared CNet as an employer, I had not met him.

But I feel I know him.

And maybe you do too, in the sacrifices and deeds of your own father or husband. Or you, as a father or husband.

Keep your love alive for the ones who love you.

James Kim has taught us that.