SmashupSometimes news comes up and hits you like a rock. Joaquín is my younger son. Susana & I returned home from a weekend with friends in Long Island to find a message from his mother about this:
Climber survives 80-ft. drop Mountain rescue
First and most importantly, he's alive. I spoke to him yesterday, twice, and even through the morphine haze, he was coherent. His first lumbar vertebra is smashed beyond repair, but he suffered no nerve damage and has full use of all his limbs. Doctors expect to fuse the neighboring vertebrae today or tomorrow. Then he will be able to go home -- on crutches, presumably -- in a few days. He will lose some permanent flexibility, but they tell him he will be able to run, jump, and -- if he has a mind to -- go back to scaling mountains. He had a black eye, but there was no damage to it. He may lose this semester at the University of Arizona, which is a huge disappointment to him; he was expecting to finish this year.
Three years ago he took me rock climbing, for the first time in my life. We went up to the Shawangunks, to an almost perfectly vertical rock face. It was exhausting, but wonderful. Somewhere I have the photos that he took, of his exhausted but triumphant father, panting on the top of the peak. He demonstrated all the equipment, showed me how to "smoosh" my foot against even the slightest irregularity in the rock to push myself a little further up, how to belay him. Because of that experience, I think I understood when he described to me precisely what had happened Saturday. Anyway, he has enormous courage, and great physical and moral strength, and I'm confident that he will finish college -- even if a semester later than planned -- and probably will scale more mountains.
By the way, he's not 38, like the newspaper said, but 36. I remember very well that night in the hospital in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico, the 8th of June of 1967, when he first came squalling into the world. And so does his mother, more painfully than I. It's mainly for you, Sylvia, that I've posted this blog. You can click on the link above to get the article from the Arizona Star. You and I had our problems, but we produced good sons.