Steps Away From Death

I know what you’re thinking…

One of two things.

You’re either thinking, ‘Man, didn’t she just post about death?” or you’re thinking that from the sound of the title this must be another dramatization of one of my many near death experiences.

As it turns out, I’ve never had a near death experience unless you count the time I had a kidney stone that resulted in a stroke.

Okay, so it’s possible I didn’t really have a stroke, but I was so sure that I had suffered a stroke, that I convinced McDaddy of it on the way to the ER. And, as exciting and scary as that episode was, I will save that for another time, another blog.

We are currently enjoying a mini-vacation with the in-laws at Snowshoe Ski Resort. Since this is our fourth trip in four years, I guess it’s safe to say this is an annual tradition. McDaddy is the oldest of five siblings so that means that his parents, their 5 kids, their 5 spouses and their 11 kids make up the McClan (with another one on the way). So, if you’re keeping track and if my mad math skillz don’t fail me, I think that totals 23. If you’ve spent any amount of time here, however, you know that math is not my strong suit. Unless you’re talking about dollar signs and sale percentages, and then, I’m your girl.


How do I get off track so easily?  Of the McClan, there are 16 of us here. It is a time of enjoyment and fun for all of us, regardless of whether we are skiing, scrapbooking, playing Thomas Trains or cooking (ahem!).

In 2006, on the same annual ski vacation, McDaddy and I shared the same condo (#217) with McDaddy’s parents and our two young sons who at the time were 3 years and 2 months. McDaddy and McGrandpa bonded on the slopes, while McMotherInLaw (MIL) and I bonded in the condo over scrapbooking, reading, playing with the kids and ultimately laughing about the events of a certain day.
During our fateful visit back in 2006, we watched as an ambulance pulled up in front of the building where we were staying. Me and my mind immediately went in several different directions. One of which may or may not have included McDaddy breaking his neck on the slopes. (Did I mention I have a flair for the dramatic?) Soon after that, my mother-in-law and I heard the familiar sound of walkie-talkies. Well, it wouldn’t have been familiar to most people, but my job in jail required that I carry one, so whatever this was, it was rightupmyalley. I went to the back  bedroom and pulled back the curtain. To my surprise, I saw WV State troopers swarming the hall-way. Something had apparently happened in the room next to ours. 

(The door that you see beside the bench is where the State Troopers were. My sweet Stevie is standing in the door way of our apartment).

I quickly informed MIL that something BIG was going down and I Nosy Nellie opened our apartment door. I stood wide-eyed in our doorway and the troopers politely asked me to go back into the room and close the door.

Sweet Mercy. This was serious.
We stood silently by the window, hushing the kids, eavesdropping on the conversation between the troopers. We gathered just enough info to deduce that something really bad had happened. Something about pills, pizza, girls and beer.

Not necessarily in that order.
Using Alex’s dirty diaper as an excuse, I stepped outside of our door. My pretense was to throw the diaper away in a hallway trashcan. In the minute or so that it took to do that, I was sure I could collect enough information to reasonably assess the situation and know for certain what had happened. (My detective skills surprise even me.)
On the way back to our room, there was a young guy sitting in the hallway outside of Room 215, the site of the “crime.” He was visibly upset and had tears in his eyes.
He looked up.
Our eyes met.
I asked, “Is that guy in there alright?”
“No,” he said…. “He’s dead.”
Okay, so there was a dead guy in the room next to us. Just steps away from our room.

And, for some reason the police did not want us to know about it. I hurried back into our room, shut the door and told MIL what the guy said. We both headed back into the bedroom, pressed our ears to the window, tried to catch quick peeks through the curtain and listened while the police interrogated this young man.
Based on the interrogation, we gathered the following info.

1. Four guys were sharing Room 215.
2. They invited girls to their room.
3. The girls brought pills.
4. The guys shared the pills.
5.  They ate pizza and drank beer.
6. Early the next morning the girls left the room.
7. When it was time to hit the slopes the guys went into the room where “dead guy” was sleeping and tried to wake him up. He would not wake up, so they left and went out snowboarding.
8. Around lunchtime, they returned to their room.
9. “Dead guy” was still “asleep”
10. They doused “dead guy” with water.
Dead guy did not move.
He did not move, because he was dead.
Holy Hallelujah.

I quickly informed MIL that I had watched enough CSI to know that the police always interview the neighbors. And, since my bedroom shared a wall with the dead guy, I was sure the police would be making a visit to our room to interview us, separately, and then together.

We stood there listening for hours.
Much to my disappointment, the police never came for an interview. After hours of investigators, hotel personnel and police coming and going, they took the dead guy out in a body bag. MIL and I had an exciting day and we could not wait for the guys to get back to tell them what happened.
I re-told the story several times after we arrived home. Days later, the finality of that guy’s life hit me pretty hard. I was so consumed with the investigation, the hoopla and the excitement that I didn’t really stop to consider that this was some body’s baby. 

Some one’s child had lost his life in a corner apartment next to ours at the “Top of the World” at Snowshoe Resort.

Our lives are fragile.

Each year when we arrive at Top of the Mountain Resort for our annual tradition, I am reminded of that and the poor guy that lost his life.

We are making new traditions and fun memories with our children.

Somewhere though, there is a mother who has lost her son and is no longer able to make memories with her child. Wherever she is I whisper a prayer for her today.

As I type this, my sweet six year old is headed to Ski Lessons. He is excited and I am not. I worry that he will get cold, scared or hurt. I am also whispering a prayer for my baby as I sit and write this post.

Hopefully, we won’t have any drama this year.

Updates on Ski School to follow.


  1. says

    Yes, I hope you have no drama this year! Hope you have (had) a great trip. And, in the future, when state troopers ask you to stay in your room, just listen!! And, of course, keep your ear pressed to the wall… 😉