Somehow, someway, the tallest mountain on the planet sneaked up on us. We had heard rumors that the third day on the trek would be a memorable one, but trying to understand broken English and read the body language of a Sherpa while breathing hard at high altitude makes for some heavy ambiguity.
I was in the middle of our pack of 30 when I saw Mount Everest for the first time. I stared at the peak, noticing that there were many more mountains that seemed just as tall but never reached the same celebrity status. Just a few feet shy it appeared. I observed the dozen or so in our group who were already captured by its power. Some smiled. Some felt the need to comment. Others could find no words. A few cried.
When you embark on a journey of such epic proportions with people who were told not too long ago that they aren’t going to live forever – and maybe even less than that – there will be tears. I’m beginning to understand where they come from, though not being a cancer survivor myself, I will never truly know.
But as I looked up at that mountain that I’ve heard so much about since discovering the world is bigger than Iowa, I was overcome by the feeling of how fortunate I was to be seeing this with my own eyes. I never thought this would be a reality. I imagine the tears that fell on the trail yesterday were for similar reasons. For my new friends, the fact that life remains a reality is a peak that rises high into the heavens.
Once I could bring myself to removing my gaze from the mountain, I looked back at the other half of the group who had yet to round the corner for the view. “How will they react?” I thought.
I knew, but at the same time, I didn’t.