Mt. Aconcagua, Mendoza province in Argentina, on the Chilean border.—the highest point in South America. Photo credit—William Finley

*Inspired by the lyrics I Lived by One Republic, in honor of my brother, David Reinhart, who lived his life to the fullest ’til the moment of his passing on December 29th, 2012—Lisa Reinhart Speers, founder of The Evolving Nest.

“Hope when you spend your day
They all add up—
Hope when the sun goes down
You raise your cup…”

I hope when you see the gift that Christmas brings each year—
You’ll pause for a moment and breathe into it with everything you’ve got.

Dave—Christmas 1977

Christmas was magical as a kid—no peeking allowed.

I’d gather downstairs with my five siblings on Christmas morning, eagerly awaiting the musical signal to discover Santa’s bounty firsthand. “Did you hear that?” As music started playing—quietly at first, then louder.

My parents blasting Christmas tunes upstairs, while sipping bourbon-spiked eggnog, was all that stood between me and my wish list. 

“Go!” yelled my brother and we’d run up the stairs as fast as we could, in reverse order of our birth. The thrill of Christmas morning—never got old. With eight of us in the family, presents spread out from under our tree like treasured memories dotting my youth.

I was six years old, the first time I remember Christmas. I know, because Santa left a bright, blue Huffy bike—just for me.

“I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did.
With every broken bone
I swear I lived…”

I love fishing. My dad taught me how to fish, igniting a passion for the outdoors that still fills my soul. I often reminisce about our conversations, sitting side-by-side, on those crystal clear waters. The memories created will outlast both our lifetimes.

Dave on Crescent Lake in Oregon, circa 1978

Over the years, the thrill of fly fishing took me to some of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Hiking and fishing with friends by day and frying up our catch at night. The smell of a wood-burning fire, under a star-lit sky, still warms me to my core.

“Hope when you take that jump
You don’t fear the fall.
Hope when the crowd screams out
They’re screaming your name.
Hope if everybody runs
You choose to stay.”

Dave with a double catch

My love for all things wild—fishing, hiking, camping, and climbing—delivered an escape from the ordinary that only nature could offer.

There are wonders to be found—hiking amongst the giants. Every time I stepped between two trees, I would enter a doorway to a new adventure…

Whether I am traversing the Haute Route from France to Switzerland or hiking the alpine trails of the Pacific Northwest—the place I call home—I am invigorated by the majesty of it all.

Greg Nourse, Mats and Dave after completing the Haute to Haute route from
France to Switzerland in 2009

Then, there’s the “Annual” as we call it. I lived for this yearly adventure. Twenty-plus suburbanites turned adventurers for a week. First in our 20s, then 30s, and now many are pushing 50. 

The Men of the Annual

I made every camping trip with this crew for 20-plus years—I wouldn’t have missed a one.

Rain or shine…the Annual lives on (Dave in blue)

I still go—they hear me in the whisper of the wind and the thrill of the catch. A few have even caught a glimpse of me, just as the sun sets on the horizon.

“Hope that you fall in love
It hurts so bad.
The only way you can know
Is to give it all you had…”

I fell hard for Char. God, I love that woman. Our passion was fire and it glowed with an intensity that sometimes burnt to touch.

Char & Dave

We waited ’til we were 40 to get married—after years of dating.

Sixteen months of wedded bliss, filled with passion, adventure, and dreams for the future—but fate had a different plan. I still wonder, “What if?” 

I’m always with her—she knows my love for her will never die.

Someday, I hope she’ll summon the courage to love BIG again. I believe in the depths of my soul Char has enough love for us all.

“And I hope that you don’t suffer
But take the pain.
Hope when the moment comes,
You’ll say
I, I did it all
I, I did it all…

I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone
I swear I lived…”

From Mt. Hood in Oregon to Rainier in Washington State to Denali in Alaska to Elbrus in Russia—I climbed them all. Climbing for hours, up thousands of vertical feet, on snow-covered mountains has a way of quieting the noise of everyday life. There is so much peace to be found—just the mountain and me.

Dave and Greg on summit of Denali in Alaska

Digging my crampons into an ice wall on a 50-degree vertical slope, while securing my position with an ice axe at 22,000 feet above sea level, kept me hyper-focused on the ultimate prize—the summit.

Climber on the Polish Direct Route, Mt. Aconcagua
Photo credit: William Finley

I almost made the summit that day—22,841′ up Mt. Aconcagua—the highest peak in South America.

The snow blanketing the surrounding foothills, nearly 10,000 feet below me, glistened off the slopes of this exquisite Andean range.

The View from the Polish Direct route on Aconcagua

We were making memories, we three—Greg, Eric, and me. Our adventures had taken us all over the world, through many decades. 

Eric, Dave & Greg—Denali, Alaska

Climbing Aconcagua was to be no different. 

But…I felt slow—for the first time ever.

In exchange for slowing them down, I chuckled offering to buy them beers and steaks—these brothers I’d known since college—as soon as we were back in town.

Our summit bid was going as planned until it wasn’t…

Too much ice. Too many false summits. 

Then, without warning the altitude got to me—it never had before. 

Without hesitation, Eric took off toward the summit to get help. He knew time was not our friend today. Tragically, the only way down was up—there was no easy fix…

No team ready to come to our rescue. Too high for helicopters to fly.

The sun began to set on the horizon—this was not part of our carefully laid plans.

Greg stayed, breaking the climber’s code. He should’ve left with Eric, but he wouldn’t go. He stayed, trying to warm me through the night. We were chilled to the bone—we’d never felt so cold. 

The moon glowed, illuminating our position—offering hope.

I knew our family and friends were waiting…praying…hoping—sending positive thoughts. Their warm wishes reached me and warmed my soul.

I fought like hell to get back—to Char, the love of my life. To my amazing parents. To my three brothers, who I so admire. To my two sisters, who adore me. 

To my adventure “brothers” and my business partners. To all my cousins, nieces, and nephews. All my friends from high school and college. I never gave up trying.

There was still so much to do—so many places to see.

As I looked out, one last time, from my perch at 21,600 feet, the sky unfolded a shimmering white staircase just for me.

The Polish Direct route on Aconcagua

Simply magnificent. So quiet. So peaceful. 

In the distance, I heard a familiar melody—so hushed—I strained to hear it at first.

The music started softly, like snowflakes floating through the sky and quickly grew to a crescendo as angels joined the celestial choir. 

I heard someone proclaim, “It’s time to go.” I hesitated. I’m not ready.

Then, inexplicably, I am sitting around a roaring campfire—with everyone I hold most dear.

From an Annual camping trip many years ago…Dave on the left and Greg on the right.

Warmth engulfed me. My heart overflowed.

These are the moments we live for—surrounded by family and friends—swapping stories and laughing at the same jokes that have been told over and over for years.

Millions of amazing moments, captured forever in my heart.

“It’s time to go.” It was Eric—his voice so pure, so clear. Warmed to my core, I started up the stairs behind Eric—this time, ahead of my siblings and ahead of my parents—who I adore.

As all the angels sang…

“I wish that I could witness
All your joy and all your pain.
But until my moment comes

I’ll say
I, I did it all
I, I did it all…

I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone…

I swear I lived.” 

Dave and Lisa—brother and sister—mid-1980’s

-Written by Lisa Reinhart-Speers (Dave’s slightly older sister)

I dedicated this story to Greg and Eric Nourse, who gave it all they had to bring my brother, David, back to us in late December 2012. Tragically, Eric lost his life in his attempt to save Dave. Thankfully, Greg survived. 

Greg and Eric Nourse on summit of Denali in Alaska 2008

I never knew Eric during his lifetime, but I had heard so many great stories about what an amazing man and friend he was too all. I know his loss is felt by many—including his lovely wife, Kandee.

I did know Greg, through his friendship with Dave before the tragedy, and I’ve had the great pleasure of getting to know him ever better over the last eight years, along his beautiful wife Emily and their darling daughter.

Although the outcome was tragic, I will always be profoundly grateful to Greg and Eric for their selfless efforts. Thank you from the bottom of my heart—Lisa

*Originally lyrics for I Lived were written by Ryan Tedder, Noel Zancanella. The lyrics were altered and adapted for this story. So much appreciation for the talent of these amazing writers. Thank you for sharing your talents with the world.

**Photo credits noted go to William Finley of AkMountain.com who climbed Aconcagua with his wife in 2010. Lisa Reinhart-Speers and The Evolving Nest do not have an affiliate relationship with AkMountain, so thank you for the use of your beautiful photographs. All others are courtesy of Dave, Lisa, Eric, Greg, the Men of the Annual, and Reinhart family photos.

A life well lived…

Dave earning his turns…

Rafting on an “Annual” camping trip
Dave climbing with Wayne
Mats, Dave and Greg, Mt. Blanc France
Dave with Eric on his right and friends
Dave (center) Greg and Eric on left/Friends on the right

Dave and his wife, Char, at an OSU Beaver football game
Dave with his brother John, graduating together at Oregon State University

The Reinhart ‘8’ —Dave third from the left in the cowboy hat and the author, Lisa, on the far left (circa 1978) with siblings and our parents, Richard and Susan

3 Minute Read

By Valeria Tipton

When you get married it’s because you have met the man you feel is supposed to be your last first kiss, but what happens when he is not? What happens when your plans change?

My husband’s death came as an unexpected blow to “my plans”. At first, I didn’t think I’d ever want to move on, but time changes things and with time came interest in the possibility of someone else. The problem is how do I grieve my husband and like someone else? How can I consider my next first kiss when my husband was supposed to be my last?

Suddenly I feel pulled in two directions. One part of me is excited for the possibility of someone to love me and my son. We miss having someone who wakes up with us on his mind. We miss having that male role in our home. We miss having someone who makes us smile and laugh, especially considering we’ve cried a whole lot.

But then there is the part of me that feels like a cheater. I know it’s been 16 months. I know he is not coming back. I know I wouldn’t have entertained the thought of someone else while he was alive. I know he would want me to move on. Regardless of all I know, I still feel like I’m unfaithful even just to a memory.

How do I move on when I know my husband doesn’t? Does his memory fade more if I’m no longer Rick’s wife but also ______’s girlfriend? Am I allowed to still talk about him, still mourn him, still wish he was here if I am dating someone else?

What if it becomes serious? Is there a man that exists that can be fully devoted to my son but still recognize he is not his only father? Is there a man willing to have another man’s name discussed around the table as friends and family continue to share my husband’s memory? Is there a man confident enough in who he is and our love without becoming jealous that I will always love someone else?

Here is the truth. I never want to forget I was Rick’s wife. I never want Zander to forget his dad. But more and more I am recognizing that our lives didn’t stop when his did. So now we are tasked with moving on, but I am compelled to take my husband’s memory on with us. Trying to figure out how moving on but not forgetting work together is a hard line. One I am not sure I am skilled enough to walk. There are days I am totally overwhelmed trying to walk this line that feels like a tight rope especially given there is no net and I’ve never done it before.

I am confident of two things. Whoever gets me and Z (if anyone does) is getting something special. I say that not with arrogance or boasting. I say it with assurance. We have loved hard and lost big and with a loss that great comes an absolute appreciation for your loved ones and the time you have with them. 

So whoever gets us will be loved big because we know that time is too precious to sweat the small stuff. I actually once thought being a widow would probably be a deterrent to a potential mate especially considering I write all about my feelings and maybe for some it is; however, I now believe that I proved I lived my vows and I love with a sincerity that even death cannot sever.

I also have complete and total confidence in the fact that Rick won’t be forgotten because who I am is forever changed because of the life we lived together. 

He made such an impact on me and instilled values and opinions that I now hold as my own. So in a way, anyone who loves me, will in a small way love him because he made me the me I am today. Nora McInerny said, “We don’t “move on” from grief. We move forward with it.” So I won’t move on from Rick, I’ll move on with him in my heart which is where he has been from the day we met and where he will stay forever.

I hate that Rick isn’t my last first kiss. I hate that we lived the vows till death, but that it came to an end way too soon. 

What I love though is that while he may not be my last first kiss, he taught me how to love deeply and in a dating world that is hard to navigate he taught me to know my worth and wait for someone who knows it too. 

He taught me that relationships take work and sometimes you want to quit but things that are really valuable are worth the effort. He taught me to be better and bring the best parts of myself to any relationship and always find the best parts of my partner. I am lucky for the years we had and I am blessed to carry the lessons from my past into the future. Whether that future will include someone new or not, only God knows at this point.

What I do know is I have been blessed to love and be loved. I will approach the rest of my life with the intent to always love big with the knowledge that maybe one of my next first kisses could be the one that is my last.

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