Her intense grief reverberated throughout the forest and across the canyons. I had talked with her only moments before, holding a secret inside. I knew what she did not know in that moment and I held on to the secret that wasn’t mine either to have or to share. I gave her a little bit more time with her hope. Her hope that she would not have to grieve.
She reached out and stroked my dog. She thanked me for coming and helping in her most trying time. She called me a hero.
I certainly didn’t feel like any kind of hero. I came to this search with the same hope she had. He hadn’t been missing that long. There was still a chance that he would make it. Still a chance that he was waiting for us to find him so he could go home.
I drove through the night, knowing it was going to rain. I drove hundreds of miles and a half dozen hours. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know him. That has never mattered. What has always mattered was that someone was missing and I was a resource that could help find him.
I spent the better part of a day looking for him. It was only one out of several days that many others had already been searching for him. It rained, and I worked hard to stay upright as my dog and I searched along steep, slippery slopes in our effort to find him. The search was over with one simple phrase over the radio from another team - we have a visual.
The sound of a heart breaking is a singularly horrific cry. Her agony was palpable in the rain, echoing achingly amongst the trees. It penetrated deep into my soul. It’s not the first time I have heard it, and it probably won’t be the last. It cuts deeply every time.
He was found. And he could go home. Finding him doesn’t bring closure. It gives answers and likely begs more questions, but it doesn’t bring closure.
It certainly brings heartbreak.