My alarm awakened me Saturday morning at the unreasonable hour of 6:00 a.m. I attempted to clear the fog from my brain to figure out why the darn thing was disturbing my sleep. I shut off the alarm and settled back on my Memory Foam pillow to listen to the radio while I contemplated the rude awakening.
After a few minutes, I remembered I needed to be at work by 7:30. While I tried to convince myself to jump out of bed, the DJ played Vince Gill’s song, “Rest High on That Mountain.”
What a fitting song for the fourth anniversary of Jim’s death. The epithet on Jim’s niche at the Veteran’s Cemetery is “Rest High on That Mountain.”
The anniversary had been bearing on my mind for the entire week. I thought about it on Monday the 13th, which seemed much like a Friday the 13th. I was at home that day, but instead of relaxing, I spent the day working on various projects. Tuesday was a hectic workday with deadlines to complete before noon on Wednesday. I ran into problems, but managed to finish my reports before Brenda and I left for the accountant’s meeting in Kansas City. By the time I got back into the office Friday, I was mentally and physically exhausted.
On this gloomy Saturday morning, all I wanted to do was sleep, but the Vince Gill song brought back a flood of emotions. In my memories, I see Jim sitting on the rock ledge overlooking the Big Horn Meadows in the Rocky Mountain National Forest. Jim plays his guitar and sings a song about Colorado while I videotape him. Tourist and chipmunks watch in hushed silence. One brave chipmunk runs up Jim’s arm and perches on his shoulder.
The Rocky Mountains soothed Jim’s soul. He liked nothing better than making coffee on a camp stove in Moraine Park. He kicked back in a lawn chair, sipped coffee by the campfire and waited for the sun to peek through the mountains.
Jim didn’t need an alarm clock to wake him in the mornings. He was never a sleepyhead like me.
I remember Jim telling me “Rest High on That Mountain” was written as a tribute to Vince Gill’s brother who died too young after a lingering illness. The song spoke to Jim’s heart. Our minds play tricks on us, but I can’t help but think that Jim told me about the history of the song on one of the many Saturday mornings we sat propped up on our pillows while we drank our first cup of coffee.
One of the things I loved most about our life together were the quiet mornings when we had our “together” time to engage in contemplative conversations. At that time, Jim never suspected he would someday have a disease that would steal these moments from his memory.
As I lay in bed, I didn't think about that day four years ago, but instead remembered our ordinary lives fifteen years ago. When the song finished, I walked into the kitchen to start a pot of coffee. I opened the blinds to see a gentle rain falling. The redbuds are bloomed and tiny flowers peek through the grass. It looks like a Colorado morning.
“Rest High on That Mountain” seems to be a message from Jim. He always said that death was closing one door and opening another. I believe he wants me to know that although his death is heartbreaking for his family it is not the end; it is a continuance of life for all of us.