I have never liked death. I have never been one to feel comfortable at funerals or willingly go to viewings let alone say 'goodbye' to people in their caskets. It honestly creeps me out to see dead people. So the first time you witness someone die, and die unexpectedly, it does weird things to you.
Last Saturday I was hiking in Provo Canyon at Stewart Falls. A friend had recommended the hike and since I had never been, Laura and I decided we would go up there while she was visiting for the weekend. It was a beautiful hike - everything was so luscious green and peaceful. We made it to the waterfall and decided to take the very steep hike down to the bottom were you could actually get in the water and walk around a bit. We took in the whole experience of the place and then soon after taking some pictures decided we wanted to go up part of the fall where you can actually almost go behind the water. I'm sure that when the trail was created, this was not meant to be part of it, but over time so many people have gone up it that it was become someone of a trail - a crazy steep one at that. There were some other people up there so we figured we would be adventurous and go up.
After maybe 10 minutes or so, the other people went down and it was just me and Laura up there. We looked down and saw a group of people looking up and we thought they were looking at us since we were the only ones up there. Little did we know that someone had decided to climb up even further.... There was no trail above us by the way. It wasn't until after the fact that we realized what they were actually looking at. A short time later we heard some of the girls scream and right as I looked over to my left, I saw the man literally fall right past me and land 50 or so feet below us.
There are many details of the next hour that I witnessed as so many people tried to revive this 22 year old BYU student, but there is really no way to put in to words that hour of my life. Rescue paramedics arrived maybe 40 minutes later, and then a chopper came and left - without landing. The whole thing seemed surreal, but in fact it was very, very real. A man, one year older than me, had fallen from 20 or so feet above where I was. And died right in front of me. He was just a college student living out of state trying to enjoy his summer with some friends.
This incident made me think about life throughout the afternoon and made me question some of my own actions. But, at the same time, as horrible of an experience as it is to watch someone leave this mortal life, I feel so unaffected by it. I woke up Sunday and went on with my life, and don't think much differently or feel very different or anything.
What does that say about me though? That I can watch someone fall and die and not really be affected by it, aside from the initial shock of it. What kind of person does that make me? Life is precious. And it is meant to be lived. This is what I intend to continue to do.
*To read the short story and view pictures of the area, click here.