Because of Noah
When newborn Noah Hunter was diagnosed with a sick heart, many wonderful things happened.
"There were three or four of them, all in their surgical scrubs, with their masks and those hairnets," Chris told me. "And Steph handed Noah to me without saying a word."
I was still bent over, heaving for breath. "Why?"
"I knew as soon as she handed him to me that she knew she wouldn't be able to hand him over to the doctors herself. After I had him, Steph leaned over and kissed his forehead once. Her face was upside down to his. I remember somebody saying, 'We're ready to take him,' and Steph put her hands on the side of his head like this and bent down and kissed him one more time. Then she went and sat down on this chair and put her hands like this"—on either side of her face, like blinders— "and broke down."
"I remember saying 'OK.' I don't really know why. I just said 'OK' and handed Noah over to this woman. I knew that it might be the last time I would touch his body while he was alive. And the woman took him, and she said 'OK,' and then they were gone. I guess the only other thing I remember is that I had this strong desire to follow him in there. I wanted to watch."
"Do you think you could have taken that?" I asked. Chris nodded.
"If this was it, if my son was going to die, I wanted to be able to hold him during his last moments. And if I couldn't do that, or be by his side, then I wanted to be right above him, watching him."
How does one respond to something like this? With everything? Nothing? Months passed before I understood what that story, and Chris' telling it, meant for me. I feel the Call of Colorado, and that moment of mine up on Mt. Princeton was a holy one. But it wasn't church. It was inward and solitary; it was prayer. Church, on the other hand, is a thing that is done, and done with others. It was La Plata, not Princeton, which gave faces and humanity to a Call that previously had neither. La Plata—that was church. This realization grew slowly, though. At the time, there was nothing but gratitude and humility.
"Thank you," I said, and then the two of us walked to the top of the world, where Navan and Don were waiting, and the four of us raised our water bottles to toast the boy who'd brought us together in this place.
Andrew Corsello is a Denver native and a correspondent for GQ magazine. E-mail him at email@example.com.