Crossing the Line

We had some unexpected excitement during our winter vacation. Our snowmobile excursion was planned well in advance; it was fun; it was exciting. But then it turned into something else. One of us almost crossed the line.

Crossing the line is an expression we use when someone “passes a point of no return.” We use it to say we’ve made a decision (usually regrettable) that cannot be undone.

Sometimes a man draws a line in the sand and dares his adversary to step over it. That’s a decision that can’t be reversed. I’m using it as a reference to crossing from life into death, also irreversible.

In our party of six, three of us had never been snowmobiling. The more confident drove the machines. We had a professional guide who warned us about staying single-file, staying on the path, and other hazards along the way. It began to snow. The steep trail up the mountain was lined with beautiful Ponderosa pines.

with snowmobile

At first it was great fun.

On a plateau, in an open meadow, our guide turned us loose, set parameters, and suggested this would be a good place for novices to try driving the “sleds.”

I was a scaredy cat, as usual, and insisted my husband go have fun without me, going super fast without the cumbersome load of a passenger. He did.

But then my sister-in-law drove their sled, with her husband on back giving encouragement and direction. Round they went in a big, long oval, farther than the eye could see. I shot some video.

I finally, timidly, slowly took my turn driving. My husband filmed a few seconds of evidence that I really did drive the snowmobile. It was fun.

Nearing noon, past our scheduled time to head on up the mountain, the snow became so heavy that our guide said we would not attempt to climb further. We took a break, ate snacks and drank water I’d insisted we all carry “just in case.” My sister-in-law and brother-in-law had gone down to the far end of the meadow and were taking too long to get back. I became concerned and, well, it turned out for good reason.

She had crashed the snowmobile into a tree and lay moaning unintelligibly while her frantic husband shouted several minutes for help.

She was on snow pack measured in feet, not inches, her ribs were smashed and she was in shock. We all prayed at the scene and my sister-in-law became coherent enough to pray with us. We weren’t sure what damage had been done to her body but we knew she came very close to crossing the line.

It took an eternity for the rescue team to get there with paramedics and a backboard. It took another eternity (two hours) for them to creep back down the mountain with her. The ambulance flew down the road to get her to a hospital forty-five minutes away.

We continued to pray and she continued to heal in the hours, days and weeks to come.

That was in January. In March came the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic and everyone was scared. Now, as restrictions ease in mid-May, most people are not so frightened anymore. Some are downright cavalier about it.

I’ve personally been in life-threatening situations enough times to realize that any one of us, at any moment, can be mere seconds away from crossing the line between life and death. It doesn’t have to be a virus. It can be an accident, a ruptured whatchamacallit, a pharmacist’s mistake, an earthquake or a hurricane. We are living and breathing one moment. And then we’re not.

Everyone needs to face the idea of mortality. It is essential to give serious thought about what happens on the other side of the line. It’s inevitable. It’s irreversible.


About janets123

Children's writer, newspaper columnist, essayist, poet, storyteller
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