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The Rope Was About To Snap

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The rope was about to snap. I could hear the crackling and could see the worn out strands quickly breaking in front of my eyes. My mind was racing with blurry thoughts of how the equipment that has never failed me is slowly giving up. “No, no!” I screamed. That rope was the only thing that was suspending me above the thousand foot drop below me. I furiously clung to the crumbling rocks above me, realizing there was nothing for me to hold on to. My mothers booming voice came inside of my head, “Bryan, how many times do I have to tell you that climbing that mountain by yourself is not safe? Join a club, go with a group, but never all alone...you hear me?”

At that moment, when I was waiting for my body to violently tumble among the sharp rocks that awaited me, I for once believed that my mother was right. I could be going crazy, but honestly I can conclude that climbing is the only way I can remember my brother Michael. It was only three years ago that we would be racing each other to the top. It was like yesterday when we snuck out the back door with the keys to old truck out back and come to this very mountain. Every Saturday, our climbing adventures brought us excitement and a sense of freedom. I could still remember Michael saying with a smile across his face that sitting on the mountain peak was his favorite part. He would say casually, “Bryan, I love to climb. It may be hard and scary at times, but I think that represents life.” Michael always has a special way of comforting me with his soft clear voice that could even put the meanest man in the world to ease. His sky-blue eyes sparkled with wisdom as he continued, “When everything seems to fail you, after you fight it through, you get to see everything on a clear, sunny day. And you sit here for hours and hours, and not a single bad thought will cross your mind because in that moment you are infinite, you are the king of the world. Bryan, lets sit here a little longer and tell me about your friends at school.” He then laid his toned base-ball arms around my small fifteen year old shoulders, and affectionally squeezed me into a hug. When I told him about my new friends at high school, he sat quietly and listened attentively while sometimes adding a nod of the head or two that caused his dark brown hair to fall across his forehead.

A tear drop went down my face and soaked into my shirt. It might of been because of my increasing fear of the breaking rope that continued to fray in front of me, but I think it was because for the first time in my life, I might have not be able to reach the top for Michael. I didn’t know what to do, should I scream for help? Should I have just given up? “No,” I said aloud to myself and closed my eyes. “Just sit here and don’t let a bad thought come across you, and then everything will be okay.”

My grandchildren anxiously waited to hear the end of the story, but my youngest was sound asleep on my daughters lap, and I decided to let them go home. “But grandpa, we need to know the end! We must know how you escaped, please finish!” the others persisted. I shook my old head no, besides my back was worn out and it was time to take the handful of pointless pills that claim to keep this seemingly useless body in action. I wish I could return to those great days when Michael and I were young and reckless. We would climb out of our bedroom windows and stay out until the break of dawn on summer nights. We would laugh hysterically at our crazy parents lame jokes and stories as we traveled in the car for hours on our way to Grandma and Popops house.

Michael was a character, always the life of the party. He was the captain of the baseball team, and he always had a great, and rather large crowd of friends that would come to our place after the victorious games. His laugh was the best trait about him, his booming deep voice could be recognized and most defiantly could have been heard from miles away. His smile could melt your heart in two, and it seems as though every thing he said had some sense of humor in it. Michael and I were the closest out of everyone in my family, my eldest brother leaned more towards the serious side considering he was quite a few years older than us. “Greg is just mad he can’t party with us here at home, he’s just too cool” Michael would say to aggravate Greg when he once came home Easter weekend from college to celebrate his twenty-first birthday.Those were the days, but it seems like thousands of years have past and left me all alone in a large empty house with only a wooden cane and wrinkled old hands to get me around. But together, Michael and I always found a way to turn a bad situation into a good one, and we always supported each other no matter what.

The worst times we went through were the last times we faced together. It happened so quickly I can’t recall the day we heard about the skin cancer. We stayed strong together, and I never once left his side. When the cancer spread and his hair was completely gone, he had to the leave our home. Despite my mothers various protests, I stayed at the hospital every day and every night. My brother never once complained, and never said he was in pain. But that was Michael, he never wanted to show his pain because he knew inside that it would kill each and every one of us in the family. He was my hero, my role model, and my best friend. The last days we spent together were not the best, but we fought our hardest and unfortunately Michael left us at the young age of seventeen years old. The last thing he ever said to me was not completely clear because it was hard to hear him through my loud, weeping cries, but I do remember him saying at the end that he loved me, and in return I embraced him with loving words.

So when I was in the midst of a near-death experience when my rope was about to snap, I remembered Michaels lectures about checking gear. He said matter-of-factly, “Every climber knows to check his gear, but if you forget to, which I know you will, keep this extra rope in your pocket. You can repair any breakage with that knot, it’s a miracle worker.” And with that said, he casually slipped his extra rope into what I thought was a useless backpack pocket. I reached into that pocket and with shaking hands managed to attach it to the splintering ends of my rope, and just like that I was saved.Turns out, Michael was there for me through my hardest times like I was there for him.

Michaels knot saved my life, and when my grandchildren get old enough and learn how to tackle the mountain themselves, I will give them each rope just like mine. It’s a piece of Michael that will save them too.





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