By Jim Bates
Dave was grateful for the final emotional push as he clamored up and over the edge of Lizard Peak onto the top, a large flat area.
“Thanks, man,” he said to Lyle, his life companion for the last forty years. He was nearly out of breath.”I needed that.”
Lyle was also his best friend, and Dave fought back an urge to give him a nostalgic hug. They’d been making this climb for all of those forty years, and right now it felt good to be with him.
Dave walked over to the edge, took off his day pack and turned to admire the view. He never tired of it: The half mile wide spot in the Colorado River known as Lake Havasu; its namesake, Lake Havasu City, a few miles away to his right stretching up into the Sonora desert foothills; the serpentine flow of the Colorado River and, beyond it, the mountains of California rising west into the distance as far as the eye could see. It was a view he never tired of. Birds and hawks and eagles, even the occasional condor, were often seen soaring close enough to touch. Lyle had loved it up here just as much as he did. It was their special place. In fact, it was the first place they’d ever kissed and declared their love for each other. Forty years ago. A lifetime of love, was how Dave looked at it. Their lifetime together is now over.
He opened his pack and took out the container that contained Lyle’s ashes. He’d died less than a week earlier after a mercifully short battle with brain cancer. Dave had been by his side throughout and was there when Lyle had briefly regained consciousness, squeezed Dave’s hand and said, “I’ll always love you, man.” Then, after a few moments, added, “Take me to the desert.”
He knew exactly what Lyle had meant.
Dave held the container reverently. There was so much to say that he didn’t know where to begin. Finally he spoke to the wind, saying all that was needed, “Lyle, I’ll love you forever, my friend. I’ll never forget you.”
He moved right to the edge, six hundred feet above the desert floor, opened the lid and waited. When the wind was right, he tilted the container and watched the ashes spill out, caught by a sudden gust as if it had been waiting for just that moment; Lyle’s ashes swirling away out over the desert that had formed the backdrop for their lifelong love. Then he put the container away and made ready to climb back down, already planning for his next trip when he would scale the mountain once again to stand in the wind overlooking the land and be with Lyle and tell him again how much he missed him and again how much now and forever he would always love him.