top of page
  • Writer's pictureKatja


The headline of this blog is a tribute to my late, dear friend and mountain husband, Stephen. He was taken from this world too soon, but he left a legacy that continues to impact my life every day.

Stephen had a tattoo that represented his move from Florida to Washington, and the words accompanying it always inspired me. "I shall either find a way or make one." In so many ways, he made his own way in life, yet he also knew how to live in the moment and enjoy the path he was on.

Stephen's death also inspired me to take the plunge into this new adventure. His family remembers him as #forever35 because that is how old he was the year he left this earth. I remember texting with him at the time; I was only a few years younger, being right around 30 when we met, but he loved to tease me for being such a baby. I was never supposed to catch up with him in age, but that is what happens when our years stop adding up.

The message I posted to Stephen on his 35th birthday is forever seared in my brain. "Happiest of birthdays to the coolest goat-spirited-climbing-partner! May it be an awesome day, and a start to a fantastic next year of life!" I had no way of knowing that on the date of that posting, he had 79 days left.

As I have gotten closer to 35, I wonder more and more... what if that is all the time I have left? I do not want to die nor do I plan to endanger my life in such a way that my years will end soon, but these things are sometimes out of our control.

Several weeks ago, I spent my 79th-day-post-birth-anniversary attending a training, walking along a river on a path I have never walked before, and visiting with family as we celebrated my neice's birthday. There was nothing extraordinary about the day, but it is an interesting thought experiment to consider what it would have been like if it had been my last. Did I experience moments of joy? Did I tell the people in my life how much they mean to me? Did I listen to good music, eat good food, and see beautiful things? I am happy to say that I did.

A friend of Stephen's recounts how, several days before he died, they were talking about bucket lists and he said that he did not have one. He was living his life in such a way that nothing was lacking and he was excited about new adventures but had already lived so many of them that he was happy. I have always tried to live without regrets and to not leave things undone or unsaid. Stephen's words reiterated the importance of this to me and have inspired me every day since.

Stephen was not a saint by any means; he would mercilessly haunt me if I started proclaiming anything of the sort about him. He did have some pretty amazing moments, however, and I draw on his inspiration to motivate me to take these next steps into the unknown. I do not know the way, but I will find one; if I cannot find one, then I will make one.

Thank you, Stephen, for helping me set off on this next great adventure. On belay!

Learn more about Stephen and how I continue to honor his life and death by visiting

66 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page