At the Katmandu airport Mt. Everest glistened in the horizon like the spire of a cathedral set down from heaven. Clouds swarmed over the summit as if to warn away an unholy climber.
I was in love with Evan, and told him I would follow him anywhere. A new town, a different state, even another country, but I admit I didn't consider the tallest mountain in the world, when I said, "I do." I simply looked into his adventurous blue eyes with an unfailing love.
My mother once told me I had the gift of discernment, but lately I felt my judgment a bit cloudy and foreboding as the mountain.
"Stacy, this is it, just look at it." He plucked our bags from the carousel, and looked thru the large framed windows at the tallest peak God ever made. "Aren't you pumped?"
I was thinking what if we died? What if I never had child? What if I never celebrated my thirtieth birthday? All the what-ifs raced toward me like an avalanche. "Well, it's a little intimidating."
"What?" Then he smiled with his perfect white teeth, his face flushed with excitement. "Babe. We can do this. We've trained hard. We can be the first husband and wife to ever reach the summit."
He held me firmly around the waste, and together we gazed at this titanic challenge.
Lately I've discerned, perhaps he wants me to himself against the world. But I wondered how far it all had to go? Would this be the ultimate sacrifice?
I would have been happy in our marriage to have Evan come home, and have raised kids to climb his neck at the door and pelt him with kisses.
"Stacy. What's the mountain telling you? Because I think it mocks us."
I said nothing. I let the heavy silence fall like an invisible curtain. How can I tell him now? How can I tell him it's too big a price to pay?
"Once we get unpacked and get to our room, settle in, you'll feel better, I promise."
I wondered if he could read my face? I felt ashen.
"I promise," he said, as if his promises were as deliverable as flowers in the spring. "Someday soon we can have children."
I ran for the bathroom. I ran for the one place he wouldn't trek.
I tugged at my satchel, unzipped the contents, which spilled beneath the stall and echoed in my vacant chamber. I buried my head into the toilet, and felt the bile surge in my throat. I tried to hold it back, but it lurched out of me. Helpless, and alone I was spent.
The test skittered over the ceramic tile floor. Still pregnant.
When he left with his group a somber disappointment had glazed over his eyes. I had not told him. But I knew I needed to wait when the moment was right. I prayed for discernment.
Evan made the summit. But bad weather closed in a hurry.
I'd heard through the crackling of reports on two-way radios that ice slashed their burning faces. They had run out of oxygen, near the summit, blinded and delirious.
I waited at the base camp for a chance, perhaps, my last and only one. We listened for the crackling of a radio transmission. For hours there was none. I insisted on calling out to him, and if he could hear me, I told him that I carried his child.
I'd heard he sat down under blanket of snow as death whispered in his ear, until he heard the news, and then with the force of a volcanic eruption he climbed from his winter coffin and shed the ice like broken shards of glass. He stumbled into the tent like the abominable snowman, but he was ALIVE!
At the hospital I kissed away the tears of joy from his face as he traced the line of a child on my stomach with frost bit fingers.
"Stacy, this by far is my greatest moment, not the mountain, NO not that mountain at all."
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