What’s it like, to die on Facebook? To have condolences and remembrances stream in after your power switch has clicked off? Your smile is still there, bright and alive, still glowing, but now the glow is lifeless, a screen left on in the dark.
Eitan died on a Wednesday, but Facebook called it Saturday. And really, what difference does a few days make, especially once you’re dead.
On the other side of this, do status updates matter? Does status matter? What matters? When you fall 3,000 feet over snow and rock and ice, does anything matter? It doesn’t matter enough to go in and find the body; not to them at least, and not at all to you. You are dead. The point is no longer the point.
Eitan died on a Wednesday. Actually, I’m only guessing about that, he could have died early Thursday. Regardless, the fact is he’s dead.
Why do we climb mountains? Why do we walk willingly into harms way, hold up our hands and embrace the chance we will die? Can anyone answer that?
Yesterday I wrote about Eitan, about the mountain, the snow, the ice, the fall, the death. Today I went to the mountain. I went without ropes, without a harness or a partner, without any cushion between perfection and death. I went because I have I had no choice. I went because the mountain called. I laced my rock shoes, opened my chalk bag and climbed, breathing slow, deliberate breaths with every move. I felt the sweat drip down my forehead and along my nose. I felt the wind peel it away. I felt the rippling granite beneath my fingertips. I felt it all. The sun baked my bare back. The rock radiated warmth under my palms, beneath my feet. What was left but to move? I took a step, then another, then another.
Eitan died on a Wednesday. Or a Thursday. He died on a day. We will all die on a day. He slid 3,000 feet, and he died. Where in the slide did he die? I’m not even sure he knows that. Or knew.
I’ve been there before, to the spot where he died. It was seven years ago, but I climbed past. I didn’t know Eitan then, and I didn’t recognize it as the spot where he would die, but there it was the whole time.
Eitan died. It was a Wednesday or a Thursday, nevermind what Facebook said. And now I can see his smile, the echoes of his life, whenever I want. I can see what he meant to people, the words they never said when he was here, words that cannot erase Wednesday. Or Thursday.
I left the ground today and I climbed for Eitan. Or was it for me? Is there a difference? I climbed for life, for mine and his and yours, for Mondays and for Fridays. The sun, the wind, the rock and the trees all climbed with me, urging me upward just as they must have urged Eitan down, down, down. For they have no compass, no morals, no judgment, they simply celebrate what is, the movement as it unfolds. Today I went up, so they cheered. On Wednesday (or Thursday) Eitan went down, so again they cheered. They live in perfection, in celebration of movement, no matter its direction, no matter its conclusion. They honor it, no matter the outcome. And so I will too. Soon enough I will approach Wednesday, or Thursday, and even Facebook will get it right. Eventually.
Author’s Note: Read the news story about Eitan Green here.