“Do you have to go, Mike?” I asked, as he wore his socks.
“I have to, dear,” he said, a tone of regret in his voice. “I know. I shouldn’t have agreed to it when I have a wife and son at home waiting for me. But I pretty much had no choice.”
“How long will you be gone again?”
“Like I said, about two or three months. I’ll be back as soon as possible, after helping those mountaineers.”
He turned to me, and looking at me, added, “I’ll really be home as soon as possible. I promise.”
I cried. Tears fell down my face like nothing Mount Everest might have seen. I was worried for Mike. It would be cold. It would be difficult. He would have to struggle. Climbing the highest peak in the world wasn’t going to be easy for anyone, even an experienced Sherpa like him. It was going to be his first time doing this.
He stopped getting ready, jacket half worn, and hugged me tight. “Don’t cry like this, Ita. When I came to Nepal with you from America to start a new life, and devoid ourselves of life struggles, I never did expect a well-furnished job to do. It’s just a mountain. Yes, it’s the highest peak in the world. But not for once is it bigger than our abilities, our dreams, and our love.”
“I know. I’m just worried.”
“I’ll be back soon. Tell Seamus I’ll be home soon. I don’t want to wake him up, it’ll only worry him more.”
He was ready by now. He picked up his bag and was ready to leave. As he walked to the door, he turned back, came to me, took my hand, and put an ornament on the palm of my hand.
“To be reassured that I’ll be back home very, very soon”, he said calmly. I looked at my palm. A single snowflake was encapsulated in beautiful silver resin. The ornament I wore at our wedding and he loved so much and kept.
“Bye, Mike. Be home soon.”
He kissed the top of my forehead again, and he was gone.
It’s been two years, and Michael shall keep on climbing.