On Friday I took a hike with a group of co-workers to the top of the 14,265 foot Quandary Peak. The hike was challenging, but all 61 of my group made it to the top. The view was astounding. The mountain was exhausting. Reaching the summit was rewarding. After fighting through the headache and dehydration of a Colorado “14er”, my group decided to head back down to the 10,000 foot trail head.
Around 13,800 feet, I approached a man lying on the ground with a small group beginning CPR. I overheard that the man had a pulse and was breathing, though it was apparent that his situation was desperate. While I am trained for CPR, there were much better qualified individuals around to help with the medical emergency.
Over the next 40 minutes, we waited anxiously for a flight-for-life helicopter while a doctor and two nurses, along with a small group of volunteers, helped continue CPR. Around 12:15pm, the doctor declared the man deceased.
I later learned that the man, who was hiking with his fiance, was 43 years old and had two children. While CPR was being performed the words mi sheberach kept returning to my mind. When I watched as the man was declared dead, I began to recite the mourner's kadish silently to myself. It was heartbreaking to see the man's fiance, who left only a couple of hours earlier for an afternoon hike, cry as she saw her life change forever.
On the way down the mountain, I thought about how fragile life is and thought about the people I care most about. Seeing a father of two pass away, I thought about how my my father means to me.
This experience made me appreciate the people I have around me. Never hesitate to make sure those you care about know that you love them. You never know how fast your life will change forever.
[Cross posted on The Israel Situation]