Ted and I used to rock climb every weekend that we weren't backpacking when we lived in Tennessee. There was a crag a couple miles away from our house with hundreds of bolted routes and at this place the most diverse assortment of people would gather to share ropes and routes. One fortuitous weekend, we met Brad and Gina there. We were all a little freaked out when over the course of a couple climbs it became apparent that we were the same people. Among many other similarities, Brad and I were both scientists and Ted and Gina were both fitness gurus. It was such a natural fit that we didn't have to go through the normal steps of forging a deep friendship with them. They would drive up from Memphis, climb with us, go out to Mexican food (a favorite tradition by all), come back to our place, play ridiculous games with lots of alcohol, crash and do it all again the next day.
I remember like it was yesterday when Gina called me and told me to sit down. I immediately took the edge of the tattered leather chair in our family room. Brad's sick, she said. She went down the list of possible ailments that could be causing his neuropathy and at the bottom, was the unmentionable. Neither one of us wanted to entertain that idea, so we talked about the likelihood that it was something else, anything else, cancer for God's sake. It took a while, but they eventually heard those words uttered from doctors who can do nothing for you when you're told that you have ALS.
Even though they lived in Kentucky and we in Massachusetts, we remained very close. Gina is one of my best friends in this world, we've been through so much together. The tipping point from laughter to tears happened a couple years ago, and I hope like hell that we can bring the balance back as she heals from the deep wounds inflicted not only by the loss of her husband, but from the entire process that led up to his death yesterday.
I always remember Brad strong, happy, laughing, silly, alive...... I love you guys so much.