My husband, Eric, died on Friday Feb 16, 2018. It was completely unexpected. Many, many people mourn him.
I plan to post memories of Eric here on the blog as they come to me. Let’s hope I do a better job of this than I have of other plans for the blog.
Yesterday, I skied with our Sunday lesson group. This is that story. I am so grateful that all of my friends and family, including his parents who of course are also my family, encouraged me to do this and not to cloister myself in grief. That is not who I am or what Eric would want me to do. I picture him saying, as he so often did, “You know, I’m busy this weekend – but you go ahead. Go have fun. I’ll watch the dogs.”
I pulled myself together and dragged myself to the base of the Quicksilver. With every step, I wasn’t sure I could do it, but I did. I met up with our lesson group, all of whom loved skiing with him. There were many hugs, both from our group and from everyone who saw me. Lesson club is a small world.
I asked Matt, our instructor, what Eric would most like to ski. He said without a doubt it would be Eagle’s Nest, the most direct line from the ski patrol hut at the top of Horseshoe Bowl. Eric had wanted to ski that line all day the previous Friday. (I’d been on the road that day.)
It was bitterly cold and windy yesterday. Even for Breckenridge. A number of people were late, so we lapped 6 chair waiting for them. I took a run down Joker Rolls. It’s the tree side of Joker. It’s always full of windblown, and the pillows intimidate most people, so they stay pretty nice. Eric always skied them with aplomb. I skied down, and one of our friends commented on how well I’d skied it. While I’d been skiing it, I said out loud, “C’mon, Eric, help me out.” I guess he did.
So when we finally got the crew assembled, Matt recommended taking Imperial up and skiing down the ridge line to Horseshoe. It would be a lot faster than taking the T-Bar – i.e., we’d spend less time in the cold. At least one group member wasn’t so excited to ride up to 12.8k feet in the wind, but she went with it. The ridge line was an intermittent white out. I skied on the right side of it, realizing that with a moment’s inattention, I’d fall down the side into Imperial Bowl. But I couldn’t really see well enough to risk changing my line. Then I hit some unseen bumps and went down. Oh well.
The first run of Eagle’s Nest was perfect windblown chalk – hero snow and no bumps. After one run, despite the cold, we were ready to do it again. So we did. The jokes about stopping at 10:30 to have bloody marys fell away. A good run trumps all.
On the second ride up T-Bar, I neglected to pull my mask up all the way, and my cheek turned white. We realized it was time to head in for a bit. As we were skiing down, I asked Matt about another line that people had been taking on the previous run. (I never can remember the names of the lines in Horseshoe. It never really mattered to me. Drove Eric batty.) Matt said it was called Humbug. I decided to ski that. I really did feel like I was channeling Eric, skiing directly and aggressively. A cloud of snow surrounded me for a few moments and I couldn’t see, but I decided to keep skiing through it. Matt and another friend commented on how surprised they were that I’d just kept going rather than stopping. But it was all Eric.
During lunch, the wind got so bad that they shut down most of the lifts, even E chair, which I’ve only seen closed once before. We rode C Chair and skied the Doors. But that’s another story, and while Eric would ski the Doors if everyone else was, he never said, “Oh, wow, let’s ski the Doors!” Bowls were his favorite. I remember the first time he skied Horseshoe in three turns – which is crazy – and was so excited to tell me about it. Skiing was only one of his many interests – but man, that man could ski.