You may have seen, if you are a climber or are friends with a climber, that this last week the climbing world lost a bright light in Chad Kellogg when a rock fall claimed his life in Patagonia. I did not know Chad personally, though I'm only two degrees separated from him and knew who he was and thought he might be someone I'd like to emulate.In a moving eulogy, owner of Outdoor Research, Dan Nordstrom, where Chad was a sponsored athlete, quotes another OR employee Jeannie Wall:
"Any one of us could have died that day...But it should never take away from our love and drive to keep climbing, to take Chad's big spirit with us, to keep charging, keep paying attention to each moment, to live our dreams as he did every day. That is his gift. Carry it forward."
Last night, flying home from a failed backcountry skiing expedition in Colorado, I sat next to a fellow veteran flying to Salt Lake City for more intestinal surgery related to an IED attack during deployment. Where the doctors had moved his remaining kidney earlier was not working out with how his restructured intestines were processing food.
We talked about how in the early years of our return from war, we felt like if we did not feel sad or upset all the time, we were doing our friends who died at war a disservice. We were not memorializing them enough. We talked about how we both had to find an external object or thing that could exist as that memorial in or day to day lives that would help spur us on, because just like Jeannie, any one of us could have died that day.
Chad's death reminds me of the death of many others I've lost, we've lost, along the way and it reminds me that those deaths should not take away from my, or your love, my, or your drive to make the world a better place as most of the men and women I knew who have passed before me, truly believed. His death reminded me again that we all have trauma and we all know pain, regardless if we served in the Armed Forces. How we get our pain, how we get our trauma may be different, but we all get it...and we all, if we want to truly memorialize our friends and loved ones, need to carry not only the pain, but the love, the passion, and the commitment of the fallen forward.
My heart goes out to the friends and family of Chad Kellogg, and to the friends and families of those we've lost at war. Thanks for being a bright light, all of you.