People die in car crashes all the time, I know. Good people. Fit people. Men and women who have no idea, prior, they're living out their last moments, breathing their final breaths. Cars or trucks come out of nowhere and plow into them. Or the road is slippery and they skid into a ditch, a lake. They overturn and are ejected.
It was not forecasted. There was no lump, no chemo, no prognosis. She had no heart murmur, no lupus, no congenital condition. In fact, she was in top shape, having spent most of her 29 years hiking, backpacking, river guiding, and skiing. She was getting ready to move to Portland to start her new life studying Chinese medicine.
For three days she was my guide. Literally: she rowed the boat I sat in through 25 miles of the Gunnison River canyon. Figuratively: she guided me in salmon fly wonder, in the dance of the Class IV rapid, in aiming my fly for the dark pockets, in getting my tough-girl on.
Her name was Hilary Fitzgerald, and she is gone. I knew her only a short time, and my sadness is great. I say this only because it gives pause how those who actually knew her well must be grieving and hurting.
So today I visited the bird conservatory to have a look at these large, garish, avian things, with their silly plumes and their glisteny feathers. The Great Argus. Blyth's Trogopan.
These creatures of impossible beauty.