It happens sometimes. Wording on a nightly news broadcast will cause my maternal instincts to kick in –not lightly but with a fierceness that is both startling and engulfing.
It happened last night when I heard late-breaking-news about three hikers who plunged over Vernal Falls in Yosemite Valley. Climbing over a guardrail approximately 25 feet from the precipice, a young couple barely into their 20’s apparently wanted a better view of the waterfall. Slipping on slick rocks they fell into the swift, dangerous current of the Merced River which feeds the 317 foot high falls. Even as they clung tightly to each other, a family member rushed forward to help only to be swept with them to their death.
Without hesitation, regardless of the consequences, it is exactly what I would have done to try and rescue family –as if enormous bonds of love are enough to save and if not to save, to mitigate catastrophic loss by at least making the effort.
“I saw the man’s eyes when he went over the falls,” reported a witness to the tragedy. “It was devastating.”
I remember my son’s eyes, eager with the anticipation of discovery and triumph as a young college student, scrambling up Goat Rock on the Northern California coast –a 120 foot sandstone monolith barely attached to the mainland by a narrow isthmus.
Goat Rock, Northern California
An extremely dangerous climb only made the challenge more attractive to him –and to others, some of whom did not fare well.
Though now in his early 40’s and more cautious as the father of three, his eyes still light up with boyish pleasure and expectancy. But there have been times in his life when his eyes have clouded with unavoidable dread. And I have wanted to rush forward to rescue –as if the enormous bonds of a mother’s love would be enough to save him.
I grieve for you –three young people who died amid spectacular beauty and grandeur. I can only hope your last moments went quickly, your terror mitigated by the love of your family and friends who surely held you in their steadfast love as you were swept so suddenly and unexpectedly from this life.