Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

We Almost Died in Twin Falls

It was a lovely, easy hike along the bottom of the beautiful Snake River canyon.  Not another human being in sight.  Abe and I walked along, happy, relaxed, talking and joking.

We passed a waterfall.  We admired the layers of geological time etched on the walls of the canyon. We held each other and watched the green waters of the river roll quietly by.  We quarreled about whether the song "Shenandoah" was about the river or the valley.  We passed under the famous Perrine Bridge.  There was a trail leading up to its base and we could see maintenance ladders lacing the framework.  We wondered if we could climb around on the ladders but, assuming that was probably strictly prohibited and enforced by heavy fines, decided to move onward.    

We figured the trail would lead us up out of the canyon eventually and we would be able to follow the paved canyon rim trail back to the parking lot.  After we'd passed under the bridge, we found ourselves in the spot where the Twin Falls BASE jumpers landed when they did their thing, so we assumed there would be an easy way for them to get back out.  But when the trail petered off and eventually became impassable, we were left scratching our heads about how we could quickly get ourselves out of the canyon.   We really didn't want to retrace our steps, spending two hours hiking on the same pathway we'd just traversed, so Abe pulled out his phone to see if he could find any information online about how the BASE jumpers got out of the canyon.  Finally he found a website with some information.  "This guy says that there are three ways to get out of here: hike back the way we came, take a boat across the river, or climb up a trail right under the bridge."

"There's a trail under the bridge leading out of the canyon?" I asked.  I hadn't seen one.

"Yeah," Abe said.  "I guess it's that trail that leads up to the bottom of the bridge, the one we were thinking about climbing up anyway."

So we walked back to the bridge and began climbing up the mountain.

It was a steep path of dirt and loose rocks leading up to a path of heavy boulders and cliff wall.  From where we were, I really couldn't see the part of a trail that would allow us to easily walk out of the canyon.

"This would make a great gospel analogy," I told Abe as we climbed up the path.

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah," I said.  "Here we are, heading down a pathway that doesn't appear to lead out of the canyon at all.  We have to have faith in this guy who says that it is the way."

"I see," said Abraham.  "And we've got the testimonies of others who have passed this way before.  We trust in their words and we take a step forward into the darkness."  He hiked a little longer.  "I hate gospel analogies."

"Me too," I said.  "But my brain comes up with them all the time."

Abe laughed and we continued climbing up the path.

Finally the trail seemed to disappear, leaving us at the base of some large, heavy rocks.  It became clear we were going to have to do some bouldering.  I suddenly became keenly and dizzyingly aware of how high we had climbed.  "Oh well," I thought.  "We'll get past these big rocks and that will put us on the trail."  Abe climbed up first, to find a safe trail.  "It looks a little better up here," he told me.  So I followed, very carefully choosing each foot and hand hold.

When I reached Abraham and looked up, I groaned.  It did not look any better up there.  It looked equally steep and rocky.  But at this point it was nearly impossible to go back down, so we just kept climbing.  The climb went on forever, up a rock wall without a harness.  I silently, fervently asked God to get us out of here alive so we could go home to our babies.

In one particularly difficult section, someone had secured a knotted rope to a tree sticking out of the canyon wall.  Its presence reassured us that we were, indeed, on the trail that some idiot on the internet had failed to describe as being a potentially difficult trail to climb.  Abe gave me a hand up in the particularly rough spots and we both clung as tightly to the rocks as we could.    

Finally we reached the top.  "We're alive!"  I shouted.  "We are, indeed, alive," said Abe, looking pleased.  Then he smiled at me.  "Gee, honey," he said.  "Sorry I almost killed you on our tenth anniversary."

See the cliff under the left side of the bridge?  There is no trail on that thing.  It is a sheer rock wall that you will be forced to climb at the peril of your life.  The internet lies.  Do not put your faith in it.  

Friday, March 07, 2014

On Vomit and Motherly Love

I awoke to the sound of crying and glanced at my clock: 4 AM.  What could be wrong?  I jumped out of bed and opened up the door of my bedroom.  A foul stench rushed in through the door, and there in a pool of diarrhea stood my littlest one, sobbing.  "Poop on my bed!" he wailed.  "Poop on my jammies!"

"Shhh, shhh," I told him, guiding him into the bathroom, where I carefully rolled off his spoiled clothing and helped him climb onto the toilet.  "Poop on my legs!" he wept, gesturing from his throne, still heartbroken over waking up in such an undignified and uncomfortable way.  

"It's okay," I told him, kissing his cheeks, and ran warm water onto a washcloth to wipe off his legs.  I scrubbed the floor, the toilet, his jammies, some blankets. I ran downstairs and started a load of wash.   By now he had calmed down. I finished helping him get cleaned up, changed him into one of my t-shirts, and made him a little bed on the recliner.  I wrapped him up in a blanket and rocked him for a while, burying my nose into the fuzzy hair on his head.  It smelled of warm skin and wind.  "I wuv you, Mommy," he said, his head resting under my chin.  "I love you, too, angel," I told him.  We rocked until he was nearly asleep, then I slid him onto the chair, put a metal bowl next to him (just in case), and headed back to bed.

I hadn't relaxed enough to fall back to sleep when he started to cry again.  I climbed back out of bed and ran to the front room, where he was throwing up on his blankies.  I put the bowl under his face and rubbed his back while he gagged and retched and cried.  When it was over, I warmed another wash cloth to wipe his face, got him a small drink of water, added the blanket to the laundry.  "I wuv you, Mommy," he said again, standing in the bathroom doorway as I bleached the bowl.  "I love you too, precious."  We rocked and cuddled some more and by then it was 5:30.  There was no point in going back to bed now, so I commenced my morning routines.  There was more vomiting and back rubbing and bleaching and diarrhea and a half dozen loads of laundry, but by mid-afternoon, he was all better, better enough to be running around outside, climbing on piles of dirt, proudly declaring, "I'm a big boy."        

The next morning, before the sun rose, Soren woke me up.  "Mommy, I'm going to throw up," he told me.  I rolled out of bed and found the metal bowl.  I settled him onto the couch and curled myself into the recliner.  But soon I was rubbing his narrow, bony back while his body violently expelled its contents.  Soon there was another load of laundry spinning in the washing machine. Soon he was wrapped in a blanket, curled up on my lap.

I was tired.  But in the middle of my fatigue was a profound calm, and a swelling gratitude for the privilege of caring for these two little human beings, for the blessing of being able to be a comfort to them, of bearing the name they call when they are afraid, of being the warmth that comforts them when they are hurt, of owning the hands that quietly wipe away the stains of their suffering.  I am so thankful that these moments allow me to show them how loved they are, how precious they are.  I am so thankful for my motherhood.  In no other vocation does one have a more perfect opportunity to "lift up the hands which hang down" and to experience the overwhelming love comes from doing so.


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