Monday, July 25, 2011

Aunt Bonnie

Be forewarned, this post has nothing to do with climbing.

This summer. What can I say. Personally, professionally, it hasn't been all that great. Workwise its been one of the most stressful, high intensity times of my life and while that can be good at times, it has instead been overly chaotic without much to show for it.

While the shoulder has been less than ideal my need for climbing has been slowly replaced by a vague enjoyment of running, something that I never enjoyed previous to this summer. It has been frustrating to feel the shoulder at 90% for 3 weeks now. So frustrating that I'll be going back to the doc later this week.

Big, positive changes happened with Katie and her working environment which were awesome and she's already doing good things at the gym. A known result of the change though was that I'd be seeing less of my wife throughout the first bit. Knowing it doesn't make it suck less though. I like seeing my wife and when that changes a bit it's tough to deal with.

Another side effect of the extremely serious case of "Bitch-itis" has been seeing my friends less than I'd like to. Not wanting to be "that guy" that awkwardly comes into the gym, plops down on a couch and just "hangs out" I've been at the gym maybe once a month. It's really staggering how much I miss being around my friends and how much of my time is normally spent climbing. It's really surprised me even if it shouldn't have.

None of that matters though. We're all healthy. The shoulder will heal up. I'll start climbing again. I'll see my wife more often and work will slow down. It's all fixable. There are things that aren't fixable though and those are the real issues in life.

A couple weeks ago on the 13th I found out that my Aunt Bonnie had liver cancer. The type of cancer she had was particularly devastating and not many make it through. The doctors gave her 3-4 weeks to live at the time. She passed away 5 days later and was only 50 years old.

When I found out, Bonnie had known for roughly a year. She didn't want people to think of her and remember her as "Bonnie with cancer", but rather just as Aunt Bonnie. She kept it from all but her closest friends and didn't want to burden her family, whatever that really means.

The speed with which it all happened was absolutely shocking and I'll be honest in saying that I've never experienced a loss like this before. So unexpected and sudden with no warning or chance to come to terms with it. Katie and I went to the memorial last Friday and it was obvious the impact she made on everyone who came into her life.

It's absolutely agonizing to think that Bonnie won't be at Christmas this year. The simple fact that I'll never get a chance to see her again destroys me.

Sadly there aren't any lessons learned or a neatly packaged silver lining in this story. I lost a family member that I care for deeply and I won't get her back. Instead everyone should just go home and hug someone they care about. Life can change so incredibly fast.


  1. John KnoernschildJuly 25, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    Great post Steve. You'll be back climbing in no time!

    I feel for you and the loss of your Aunt. I lost my uncle about 2 years ago to melanoma. It was a sad time for the entire family and just like you mentioned, Christmas just won't be the same without my Uncle Steve.

    But ya know what, their memories will be with us forever and we can always remember how they touched our lives.

  2. Great post Steve, and sorry for the loss of your aunt. The sudden ones are always harder to cope with.

  3. Sorry to hear of your loss. We're all here for you, Steve - whatever you need. Hope to see you in the gym soon.

  4. ahh buddy! I'm really sorry to hear about that man. I hope the fall brings happier times to all aspects of your life.

    Lots of love,

  5. Every day is a gift. Every memory is a gift. Sorry buddy. ce

  6. I had a Aunt Bonnie that died of cancer a few years ago while I was in Hueco.. Major bummer man, sorry for your loss.


  7. So hard, Steve :( I'm glad you posted this - it's not always easy to "read" people day-to-day, so letting us into a slice of your life is good. We each can support you in different ways - I will raise my next glass to Aunt Bonnie, so let us know her favorite drink. Hugs!

  8. Thanks so much for this post, Steve. This spring my grandpa was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer, and I've spent a significant portion of my summer taking him back and forth from his home to the hospital for surgeries, appointments, and radiation was one of those days, and a few hours ago I was extremely frustrated, and I had a selfish lapse in which I felt angry that my summer (which was supposed to be filled with climbing, yoga, spending time with Jake and friends, and training for an upcoming trip to the Tetons) had been stolen away by this disease...and I'm not even the one who is suffering from it.

    Thanks for bringing me back down to earth with this post. Like you said, there will be plenty of time for climbing and the like; Jake will be waiting for me when I get home tonight...and there will be another time in my life when I'll have the opportunity to do all of the things I am missing now. For now, I am still so lucky to have my grandpa here with me; even though the process of the treatments/constant hospital visits is hard on him and our family, we at least still have this special person in our lives. We are all so thankful for that.

    I am truly sorry for your loss - it hurts beyond belief to lose a close family member. Hope to see you at the gym soon.

    Sending positive thoughts your way -
    Em Meier

  9. Its been a rough summer Steve, so sorry for your loss. Please let Chris and me know if you need anything! We miss you! Lets do dinner and fun bowling sometime soon :)

    Love and hugs,


  10. We should all kerplunk. And kerplunk hard.