Thank You Friends

Sep 18, 2013

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In the last month, I’ve received an outpouring of emails, cards, little gifts, flowers, letters, texts, tweets, facebook messages, baked goods, meals, visits, phone calls and help with everything, both from family and friends, and also from this community of climbers, jumpers and readers whom I have never met. A friend living in France drove through the night to Italy to pull me out of the Dolomites and to Switzerland to fly home, taking care of decision making, changing flights, returning the rental car, etc. I found out later that not only my brother but 4 other friends booked next-day plane tickets from the States and Canada to Italy just to fly home with me (I told my brother to cancel/refund, it didn’t seem practical–though once I got on the plane I realized why people do that). There were three friends who called me and in absolute sincerity said, “If there was any way possible, I would change places with him.”

Losing Mario is a nightmare I could never even have imagined–at least not right now. Honestly, I always thought that if one of us would die jumping or in my case, climbing, it would be me. Of course. It was actually impossible for Mario to die jumping, in my mind. I’ve heard the same from every jumper he knew or who knew of him. It’s impossible, and it doesn’t make sense. But it is.
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Usually when someone dies jumping or in aviation (and at least somewhat in climbing, though loose rock and avalanches are just those wild cards), you can track the events and figure out the chain of events or the one thing that went wrong. In this case, everything was perfect. I was having a perfect morning with the person I loved the most. We were not there to push the envelope or do anything extreme. We were there to be safe and fly together like we always do. Mario followed me off the edge, I flew ahead, then I landed and I was alone. Though I was there with him until the very last seconds, I still can’t begin to understand it or find any explanation. It truly never entered my mind that the most experienced, skilled, careful and respectful jumper I’ve ever known could die base jumping, and I’m completely unprepared to have lost Mario now and like this.

As Mario’s best friend Martin reminds me, death will come to all of us at any time, and there is not always an identifiable reason when it does. Martin was in school at Polytechnique in 1989 the day the shooter arrived. And he lived through the aftermath when many other students took their lives out of guilt and grief. The students who went to class that day and the people who went to work at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday never expected that they would not come home. Sometimes awful things happen that no one could ever see coming, when we are simply living our daily routine the way we always have, and they happen to good people who have worked hard to live as well as they can.
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The hard truth is that it’s only naivete and wishful thinking that makes us somehow feel we can stay clear of the end through some kind of recipe or formula or that we can ensure a peaceful death in bed at age 90 beside our spouse if we stay healthy and careful and good. That was my dream: I won’t have it. For those of us who want the world to make sense, or to at least be minimally fair, this is incredibly difficult to accept. Losing my soul mate, best friend and partner is incredibly difficult to accept. And no, nothing will ever make it better. We all understand that the only thing I want is to have Mario back, and I can never have that. But what helps me is that nevertheless all of you have reached out your hands in whatever way you can think of all the same because that is innate kindness and that is really all we have to give.

I realize I have 2 choices–not live, or live. Being the analytical person I am, obviously I have considered them both carefully. I have decided that existing in sorrow, in a half life, is not a choice.

Right now, it’s kind of like this:
“When life instantly and drastically takes you completely by surprise, the first reaction is confusion. If one minute you’re following a normal routine in an airplane, motors roaring, and a couple of minutes later the plane crashes and you’re on a raft, lost and adrift in a vast, loud silence, the disorientation is, at best, intense. Then a new world unfolds. You need time to understand and figure out what’s happening.”
Louis Zamperini The Devil at My Heels

I’m working on adjusting. I’m running, base jumping, climbing. Doing hangboard workouts. I ask myself what Mario would do: I’m painting the outside of the house. I bake. I read lots of books about people who have endured. Moab Base Adventures is operating–no tandem jumps anymore, that was something that only Mario could do here in Moab, but I’m continuing to base guide and instruct and of course continue my Indian Creek clinics. I’d always thought about offering women’s specific base instruction, and interestingly enough several women are coming for it this season.

I’ve been quiet here for a while, but thank you for continuing to send me your questions and thoughts about the things we love to do (especially gear and food questions, which I am going to answer, and the pictures of your dogs and cats, which make me smile each one!), and for your kind thoughts and patience.

Much love,
Steph

  • Dave Batiste

    Steph – a few years ago I injured myself climbing and thought I would not be able to climb anymore. I read in one of your posts somewhere “turn that frown upside down”. I’ll never forget it. Eventually I got strong enough to climb again. You are a strong and beautiful person and an inspiration to so many, so turn that frown upside down and live life to the fullest. Loving thoughts. Dave

  • Larry Pluimer

    Love

  • Marie

    I don’t have any words to offer except the standard ones, and they aren’t quite sufficient for the loss of your soul mate. I don’t have any pets, so no pics to cheer you up. Sorry. I do know that you are an inspiration to me as an older climber to try anyways, despite being past my prime. You make a pretty good case for climbing, eating vegan, wing suit flying and living a full life. That you could put words out for those of us concerned about you, is also inspiring. I’m glad you have Cajun. I’m sorry that you’ve lost Mario, but I’m really glad that you knew him.
    Hugs to you, Steph.

  • Anunta V

    Thank you for being an inspiration in the life that you lead. Stay strong and know that we are all sending you lots of good karma. We love you!

  • Sibylle

    Hang in there, Steph. Take care of yourself.

  • Neely Quinn

    I’m just so sorry, Steph… But I’m so glad you have so many people around you who clearly love you so much. We all adore you, and you’ll find happiness again.

  • Sophie Nicholson

    So good to hear you are taking your time and moving softly, with care and on your terms. One foot in front of the next.

  • ClimbPHX

    You live the life we simply dream of… the inspiration, the images, they are simply paths to our greatness, because we follow in your glory

    Dont forget to continue … that is the dream you’ve lived and will continue to enjoy. Mario will always be with you.

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  • Mat

    Thank you for being such an inspiration for all of us. Mario is certainly proud of you. Take care and you are more then welcome in Quebec.

  • Fred

    Keep strong, Steph!

  • Tomislav Huha

    At some point several months before my Dad passed on, I had came accross the “Journey of souls” by Michael Newton. Although I do believe in God/Universe/Nature, this particular book put it all into a perspective I really could relate to. It was still painfull, of course, but much less than what it would be without the knowledge from that book.

    Untill we all meet again, I send you Love and Light,
    TH

  • Paul Litherland

    This message is a testament to your love and strength, thank you so much.

  • Mike

    Thanks for everything Steph. It’s great to know you are getting something back from the community you have fostered. All the best wishes.

  • 张诺娅(Heidi Zhang)

    That was strength, Steph! Tons of wishes for you — hope, joy, and peace. You are not alone. — greetings from China

  • Chris de Serres

    It may not always seem like it, but we are lucky to have those we love most in the time that we have them. Nothing can erase your time together and the imprint he has left on your soul. Stay strong.

  • Patricia C Maccariella-Hafey

    I totally agree. You have been a huge inspiration to me Steph, ever since I met you and Mario for my tandem base jump last May. I wish I could take your pain away. You are as Lana stated, one of the most amazing women on this planet. Thanks for inspiring me so. Hugs, love and peace to you, Cajun and Mao.

  • jules

    Steph Davis you are absolutely a hero to me. like many here – I only know you through your posts- and was reading “Learning to Fly” when I learned of Mario’s tragic fall. I was so devastated for you – for the world, for the loss of such an incredible person. You’ve been in my mind constantly this month – and I’ve been struck by the impact someone I don’t know can have – and how much I’ve wanted to reach out and support you in some way. Thank-you for your lovely post. Many hugs to you; my amazing dog -spencer, sends many licks your way :). We’d both love to come climb in moab one day. My brief week of mtn biking and climbing there years ago made me want to stay for ever. So finding your blog meant I could live vicariously through you – and as such can’t help but feel your loss. My heart reaches out to you. Take good care of you, hugs to Cajun for his loss too – keep on keepin’ on.

  • angie

    You have inspired women, and men, with your strength, bravery, wisdom, honesty and everything else up until this horrible tragedy. Now you inspire us with your ability to overcome. I don’t know you, I will probably never know you, but your courage and strength not only to get through the loss but through it doing the things that you shared is not only incredible, but it is respectable and admirable. Steph, I can’t hug you. You can’t call me and cry and scream and try to just “get it out”. But from the bottom of my very soul, I can tell you that I am proud of you. Your grace through this is, well, more than inspirational and I hope that you know that so many people dealing with their own loss are now better able to do it through you.

    From all of us to the one of you. Thanks.

    -angie

  • Jonathan

    My thoughts are with you. Thank you for being such a strong and inspirational figure in this world.

  • spymoose

    Thank you; once again you comfort us when we want to comfort you.

  • Dan

    i NEVER post online or interact with the ‘online community’ , but i must say that you are honestly such an inspiration; such a strong and beautiful person and such an excellent role model for women. So sorry for this loss.

  • Seiji Ishii

    Steph, you won’t remember me but you were a hero to me in the way back and well…you still are today, thoughts to you and the best mojo coming your way.

  • Donnie

    Stay strong and keep your faith alive Steph as the Universe supports and guides you through every challenge/opportunity reminding you constantly you are loved and supported! <3 http://youtu.be/q8Wzifo5L3U

  • louisette

    You are so strong, exceptionnel and a model for me!!!
    Keep being youself!
    I will keep sending you positive energy!!!
    From a fan of both of you, !!
    (here in Montréal, Québec, Canada)

  • jen

    Beautiful and amazing I continue to pray for you all in this tragic loss. As a climber I know my family worries about me, and I in the back of my mind worry, but when it is your time that is it. No regrets.

  • Fred Maki

    How beautifully written.
    Wishing you the best

  • Carrie

    Thinking of you

  • Sima Chowdhury

    I am sorry for your loss. Soul mates teach us our hardest lessons. You are lucky to have an entire community to help you through this difficult time. Broken hearts can still shine.

  • Micki

    Steph you are my inspiration <3 I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you. With love

  • Poul Brix

    Steph, I’ve had my share of loss over the years but I can’t even begin to imagine a loss like yours, all I can say is stay strong and keep smiling.

    We’re all thinking about you :)

  • Nancy Robillard

    Beautifully written, my heart goes out to you.

  • Christine

    Perdre mon âme soeur, meilleur ami et partenaire est incroyablement difficile à accepter. Et non, rien ne sera jamais le rendre meilleur. Nous comprenons tous que la seule chose que je veux, c’est avoir le dos de Mario, et je ne peux jamais avoir. Mais ce qui m’aide, c’est que pourtant tous que vous avez atteint vos mains de quelque manière que vous pouvez penser tout de même parce que c’est la bonté innée et c’est vraiment tout ce que nous avons à donner.

    ++++++++++++++ Je vous comprends++++++++++++++ Continuer OUI Mario vous guide et veut que vous aimiez à nouveau la vie…………..au temps le temps+++++++++++ Je compati

  • Andreas

    Wish you the best!

    Andreas (From Sweden).

  • megan

    You inspire me. Thank you.

  • john in chicago

    Dear Steph, I recently learned of your husband’s tragic fate. Although we’ve never met, I feel like I know you as a close friend through your books, blog and answer to my email letter sometime last year. I can’t imagine how it is to lose your soul mate, your best friend and confidant. I told my neighbor what happened and she couldn’t believe this terrible accident, either. I am so sorry for you and Mario’s family. Prayers be with you all. I will continue to read your posts and when time has settled all down, I will write back and share some experiences with you. Until then, with regrets, John

  • Lacey

    My thoughts have been with you these last weeks as well. The life you live has touched mine, and I’m grateful for that. And since you mentioned it, here’s a picture of my cat Munji that always makes me smile :) All the best to you~

  • Brandy Persson

    Steph, you are truly an inspiration to all. Your strength and courage run deep. Sharing your life and the deepest spaces of your heart, is a great gift to all of us. Continue to share on your experience, strength, and hope. Sending you the highest vibration of love, everyday, for you to heal and laugh again.

  • Nes

    Sending love. You are such and inspiration Steph and so beautiful to share your strength and your fragility with us all. I have literally wept at yours and Mario’s story which has enabled me to believe that love is possible (not just settling for someone, but real heartfelt strong love). That is what comes accross in your writing and has inspired me for a while now. Though i don’t know you I send you love.. and the hope that you restored in me X

  • Linda Seidman

    Steph:
    We’ve never met…I’m Tom Seidman’s wife, but I’ve heard so many wonderful stories about you and Mario, that I feel like I know you, in a way. The morning Tom learned about Mario’s death was terrible, for both of us…He was utterly heartbroken and in tears. I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear this impossible reality. Tom always told me how very careful and respectful of danger that Mario was. With all of that, Mario was gone, and that fact is so hard to accept.
    The two of you sounded like the best of partners. Sharing everything together. I have read your blog and some other things, trying to understand. All I know is that you are a beautiful soul and that my heart aches for you and for Mario.
    I’m glad to hear that you are choosing life, Steph. That’s what
    both of you have always done.
    I hope to meet you sometime. For now, please know that people like me, who haven’t met you or Mario, are grieving for your immense loss…And that we hold you in our hearts…
    I love the picture you have on this page from Life of Pi…It is pure spirit.
    It’s Mario…
    With a warm hug,
    Linda Seidman

  • BonhommeRichard

    You inspired me so much I started climbing again, for the love of climbing, living intensely and deliberately, to be with friends and to share moments with others. You have so many more people to inspire yet … think strong, be strong, live life.

  • John Long

    You will find a way, Steph. Very sorry you have to.
    John Long

  • sanowayco

    we don’t know each other but i’m sending big hugs and prayers. thanks for sharing your thoughts, you’re kind of a big sister image to many of us in the climbing world, and you always seem to pull through with grace. keep on <3

  • http://www.highinfatuation.com steph davis

    thank you.

  • OlivierSandrineLailaFloreTitou

    Nous vous suivions depuis Catherine Destivel et Lynn Hill , car alpinistes notre couple s’est formé sur les paroies. Puis les enfants sont nés et si notre coeur pour l’escalade ne nous a pas quitté le danger de perdre plus encore nous a fait tourné nos rêves vers d’autres… Nous sommes tristes mais c’es toute notre famille avec nos 3 enfants qui vous apporte toute notre chaleur. La montagne nous grandit. Elle nous rend triste parfois. Mario reste une inspiration alors continuez votre “pitch”, car on vous aime Madame.

  • http://www.highinfatuation.com steph davis

    merci a vous. bises, steph

  • https://www.facebook.com/VersaillesStudioDesigns Anne-Margaret Smith Welton

    Steph, I just found out about Mario sitting here in my hotel room in Nashville. My thoughts and prayers are with you although somewhat late. Tomorrow I am dedicating this run to him in gratitude for his life and love of climbing and base jumping. That experience with him changed my life and did exactly what your book wants us to do, I overcame a lifetime – almost 4 decades – of suffering from multiple leveled PTSD. He gave me a freedom that I never knew. I sit in a hotel room ALONE away from my family and I sleep through the night unafraid. I was so blessed to have found him and MOAB – May God bless you and keep you strong and at peace! He spoke about you often through the climb and your love of climbing outweighing your piano although you were a brilliant pianist. Mario glowed when he talked of you – May he continue to fly is my wish and prayer. xo