"You have to go down." Brett whispered behind me as I furiously wiped snow from my face. We were standing on top of THIS MOUNTAIN:
"I can't. Oh my God if you love me you would not make me do this." I hissed at him through a maniacal smile I was putting on for the rest of the family.
"It's a bump. A tiny bump. Your 5 year old nephew is staring at you."
"He's YOUR nephew too. In fact," I said, backing away and crossing my arms. "I'm slightly concerned with how you haven't really "adopted" him yet after 6 years with me. Would you like to talk about that? Your feelings maybe of being an uncle? Do you not feel ready for the responsibility? I'm happy to work through this with you."
"You're stalling." Brett hissed back before fixing a brilliant smile on our nephew who was hopping foot to foot while watching us with a mini furrowed brow. "Elias..." Brett cooed. "You are the best, BRAVEST nephew ever! I love you!"
"I LOVE YOU UNCLE BRETTTTTT!" Elias sang back, before breaking off in confusion. "Why is Auntie crawling?"
At this point I was, actually, on my hands and knees backing away from the gaping mouth of doom. From the corner of my eye I saw my sister and her fiance Clark board a flimsy sled and speed giggling down the hill, all pink cheeks and youth and promise. I looked over my shoulder to meet Brett's annoyed face and Elias' concerned one.
"They are young." I snapped. "They are closer to the ground, so they won't sustain as much injury."
And then: two things happened at once. Brett sighed and looked at the ground, saying: "Do you really want to go through your life afraid of everything?" At the same time Elias got on his hands and knees and whimpered: "I'm scared of the hill too, Auntie."
So, they had me. I grabbed on to a black inner tube and march-crawled back to the top of the hill. After letting about 32 people go before me, I closed my eyes and pushed off.
But, I had dug my boot so deep into the snow I actually was only inching- slowly and painfully- down the massive mountain. My brother-in-law was bent over laughing, Brett's mouth was hanging open in shock, and my nephew was back to hopping from foot to foot, cheering me on and then breaking off his cheers with questions of "Is she dying?"
Finally, Brett walked about 2 feet down to me and reached out his hand. "Go down the hill with me." He said.
"There is a slick of ice down at the bottom. One of us may snap our necks and-"
"You just have to let go, sweetheart. I mean, sometimes you just have to go down the damn hill."
I looked up at his snow covered form then, and tentatively took his hand. I knew he was right. This was the last day in 2012, and I was spending it swigging from a thermos of rum and tea and crawling around the top of a hill. Not my finest moment. If I wanted anything for myself, and for the people I love: it was to show them that being courageous and taking a leap of faith once and awhile is the right thing to do. Sure, you might break your neck on a patch of ice. But, more often than not you will have an awesome ride.
So did I have an awesome ride? Um. Not really. I might have dug my nails so hard into the inner tube I broke one off. I might have screamed my head off as we sped over the ice bumps. Brett might have been laughing so hard into the back of my neck I'm pretty sure his tilted position and guffaws made us GO FASTER, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
But, I did it.
And went again.
And Elias spent the rest of the day zooming down the hill with his Uncle Clark, who patiently was the last person on the mountain with him. He even peed his pants because he refused to get down when we were all ready to go.
Happy 2013, everyone. Take the plunge.
Just wear a helmet. And bring a thermos of rum.