Natalie carefully helped young Mitch to the examination table for a routine cardiology exam. Mitch smiled at his mom as she gently lifted his hand and kissed it and then told our son how much she loved him. Little Mitch gave her a hand-hug and my heart was overflowing. Suddenly I lost my breath as the thought occurred to me: “This is my Everest.” 

Life has so many mountains to climb. I would rather traverse the valleys and rolling hills with the summer breeze at my back. I would take up my abode by the gentle stream and beautiful lake and look upon Everest like a painting, admiring its majesty from the comfort of my rocking chair. But such was not my lot. 

This was the day we learned Mitch had cardiomyopathy; that DMD had prematurely destroyed his heart and his life was in jeopardy. Over the next 9 months, each checkup revealing things were getting worse, I found myself no longer looking at Everest, but scaling it. 

I can see the summit far in the distance. Basecamp, I can scarcely see below. The air is thin and bitter cold as storms circle about. This Everest is bewildering and its difficulty is matched only by its majesty. Many people don’t reach the summit; they retreat, lose their way or find easier paths that lead to lesser summits. Some never come back. 

While this hardship is daunting and I often worry I’m not prepared for such a journey, I have developed a spiritual connection with this Everest. I have learned it is not my enemy, but my teacher. It is merely an obstacle I must climb in order that I might grow. 

And on that fateful day when I reach the summit, where the air is thinnest and the stars barely out of reach, I know I will see far into the horizon … things that cannot be seen in valleys, or by gentle streams.