January 1, 2014, the start of a New Year and our return to ski Snow Valley. This journey almost four years in the making. If it were up to us, her parents, we never would’ve returned- just too hard. But Keely couldn’t wait and with ski club starting up in two weeks we headed up again as a family to re-introduce ourselves to the place we cherished and will continue to hold close.
Keely was ready to return last year. We had excuses with ski passes elsewhere, too busy, wondering about those chairs, and worry. This year we had no excuse. Keely signed up for her school ski club (new to her as a new middle schooler) and the venue will be the place where the accident occurred. We waited until we could wait no more and headed up to enjoy a wonderful sunny Southern California day of skiing.
Memories of what happened on April 3, 2010 flooded back on that car ride up. It was a different route as HWY 330 was open, unlike last time. We imagined where the helicopter might have picked her up to take her to Loma Linda Children’s Hospital- this county sheriff’s helicopter that met her on the then closed highway to whisk her alone with medical personnel. We passed familiar places like Blauer’s where we always rented the kids’ season rentals to use during the Rim Youth Ski Program. And then the flags standing tall in front of the resort parking lot greeted us as they waved in the wind. An old familiar sight rose before us and though Mother Nature hasn’t helped much with snow there was plenty to enjoy a morning of skiing.
Craig skied with Keely alone on the first runs. The other two kids and I waited at the lodge playing in the snow and revisiting the areas I was familiar with when entertaining my babies while my older children, Keely and then Keely and Luke, skied with Grandpa and Dad. As Craig and Keely loaded the lift I watched as it slightly swung steadying in action as it transported them up the hill. Though recently bars have been placed on the beginner lifts no bars were on this lift. And up they went.
As at the base of the hill asking about our favorite ski patroller Donna, Craig and Keely asked mid-mountain if she had been spotted. At that moment they saw her skiing down, and she joined them on the momentous occasion of that first ride up the chair from which Keely slipped 32 feet.
And we are back. Life is not the same, but I guess that’s life. It is because life is short and meant to be enjoyed to its fullest we are back to the place that touched and changed our lives. It is because of Keely we are back.