During the holidays, Dave and I spent two magical hours skiing together. We weren’t supposed to have these hours together, but with my sister tuckered out, my brother-in-law wanting to ski tougher terrain, and the boys in ski school, Dave and I were alone. My rental skis were pretty new, the sun was shining and the mountains were beyond breathtaking. Even though I hadn’t been skiing since Eli was two months old, I felt confident and was able keep up with my master skier husband. If being whacked hard by the approaching chair lift doesn’t count, you could say I made it through without any spills or major incidents! All Dave and I could talk about during our fantastic time together was how we couldn’t wait to have another ski date again and again and again. On the lifts, we began plotting our next twenty years of ski dates together. In those two hours and maybe due to the high altitude, even I was getting excited about our upcoming move to Park City because of the prospect of living so close to a ski resort. At the end of our wonderful day, it did not matter that the ski school “misplaced” (for two months, by the way) Eli’s skis after Eli fell asleep in a snow bank.
Earlier this week Dave was finally able to make good on our ski date dream and take the day off while my mom watched the boys. So Wednesday morning we headed up to The Canyons for a day of skiing with my newly acquired boots and skis (thank you REI super sale)!
On the drive up I spoke a few sentences about my infertility. And at this point, who really knows what the hell is going on inside of my body? Dave I am sure said something about the homebuilding. But because I was in such a sad haze, I am really not sure what he talked about. Most of drive, I silently looked out the window. Then, as we turned onto Kimball Junction Dave reached over and put his hand on my leg.
I didn’t respond.
“Hey. Today is going to be great.” he continued.
Then I burst into tears, (I mean sobs).
For weeks Dave has been going to work, as he always does. He leaves early in the morning and arrives home right before the boys go to bed. On the weekend we are usually distracted with house stuff and entertaining the kids. This is the first time we have been alone, besides sleeping together, in a while. With Dave gone so much, I have been able to hide from my feelings, and hide I have been doing.
“I am so glad to be with you today, Dave, but being with you is forcing me to face these feelings and for the last couple of weeks I have been so sad. I have been sad about living in Utah. I have been sad about my infertility. I have been sad because I feel like I don’t have a personal purpose and I have been really lonely.”
“Hey Beth. It is going to be ok. This is why I wanted to be with you today. It will be alright.”
“How about my new boots? They hurt my feet. I am not going to be able to ski. I will ruin your day.”
“Let’s just see how it goes. It is going to be ok.”
I took a deep breath and sobbed really hard. My boots were worse than I could have imagined. Not only was I breaking them in, but we had adjusted them too snugly. I winced every step I took and it felt as though my feet were in a vice that was continually being tightened. It was cold and up high on the mountain it began to storm. Finally after a few runs, I begged Dave to stop at the Lodge. To get to the lodge, I had to make my now completely pained and immobile left foot down the steepest terrain of the day. Dave flew down this section and parked his skis while I chanted,
“You can do this Beth. You can do this Beth. You won’t fall. You won’t fall. It is only a little bit farther. Come on, Beth, you can do this.”
By some miracle I made it down without falling. I hobbled into the lodge and back to one of the few empty seats while Dave went to order our lunch. I intently began taking unhooking my boot buckles while pulling my foot out of the boot. The last buckle was frozen shut and jammed and now my foot was stuck midway between off and on. My foot’s circulation was being completely cut off and I began to sweat. Dave walked up with his huge steak sandwich and fries.
“You can eat the fries.”
“Where’s my chicken?”
“You asked for chicken?”
“Please just get my boot off.”
Dave gently pulled my boot off. Oh, the pain! I started to eat the beef-soaked fries, completely ignoring the fact that I am allergic to beef. Dave offered to buy me some chicken and I was too frustrated to accept his offer. Instead I was scheming up a way where Dave could ski by himself while I hung out in the lodge.
“I am ruining your day. You’ll have more fun without me.”
Dave wouldn’t accept what I was saying and gently coaxed me out the door. Somehow we ended up on this gymornous lift headed to the top of the mountain. My boots felt much better after Dave adjusted them. We got off the lift, my glasses fogged up and I couldn’t see a thing. Dave skied off ahead of me and all the anger and sadness I had been holding in for the last few weeks came out in the most massive wipe-out ever. I still couldn’t see and I began screaming like someone had hacked off my leg. Everything I knew about skiing left my mind in one twisted-knee-angry-wipe-out. The terrain was steep, the snow was falling and I could not figure out how to stand. Immediately a man (who I am sure heard my crazy screams) skied up on my right and instructed me how to get up. As he was talking, another man skied up on my left and they both calmly instructed me to turn towards the man on my left. I took my glasses off as the man on my left let me know that I would be ok. All I could see was the gap on his teeth that was just like mine. I stood up while he told me to follow his lines. I skied up to Dave and the man skied off.
I was trying not to be mad at Dave for not coming to my rescue. If I had been rational, I would see that it would have been really difficult for him to ski the 200 or so yards back up the steep mountain. He did the right thing by stopping and calling up to me. He tried talking to me, but I couldn’t talk. I was scared and mad and all my anger was making my glasses fog up again. Quickly, we skied down out of the storm and back to the lift. He was willing to leave, but I decided to try it again. One more time we did it and this time I did not fall. We left the resort via one crazy tow rope, a long walk up the slushy hill in our skis and one last run into the soupiest snow ever. Even the expert skiers were wiping out.
Our ski date was not the dreamy wonder we had envisioned. My left leg and now twisted left knee were throbbing, my feelings were exposed and I was emotionally drained. Somehow through all of the rage, the sorrow, the cold ski lift rides and my foggy glasses, I felt free. I was free, because I was with the one person, who unconditionally accepts me, loves me and is interested in what breaks my heart and what makes me happy. My sorrow was lifted while I was with Dave. And, on that day, my sorrow really needed to be lifted.
Saturday was Dave’s birthday, the day I began this post. As I think about Dave and all of the experiences we have shared, I couldn’t think of a better person to share my life with. Every day is a blessing and a joy. I think one of the favorite parts of our relationship is on those days or months, when one of us is struggling, the other is always there to listen, work through the rough stuff and share some of the burden. Our marriage is not total bliss, but I think we would both say that often the rough ski days are more memorable and meaningful than the easy ones.
Davy, I love you!
And in the immortal words of Rod Stewart (please Davy, don’t mock me [wink] for quoting Rod Stewart, but those were the words going through my head when I was thinking about you . . . and then I remembered this song),
“You’re in my heart, you’re in my soul
You’ll be my breath should I grow old
You are my lover, you’re my best friend
You’re in my soul.”