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

8 Minute Read

All I wanted to do was take a nap. It was the middle of a Sunday afternoon and the perfect time to turn off my phone, and the rest of the world with it. 

After playing endless rounds of a word puzzle that usually works like a tranquilizer, I was finally in that dreamy spot. You know, the accidentally-fell-asleep-sleep where you’ve already started dreaming kind of nap, then it happened…

What?! Is that someone at the door? Are you kidding me? Now? On a Sunday? Who the…Aaarrgggghhh.

I stop by the window and shift the shutters to peek out. I see two young adults standing on my front porch holding pamphlets. Ugh! I close the shutter firmly in a way that clearly states, ‘I am not thrilled to see you’.

This is obviously going to be about religion. I am not a religious person. I’ve been to many different churches in my lifetime, even studied religion in college. To each their own; whatever makes you happy. 

However, Me and the Big Guy…currently aren’t seeing eye-to-eye. He knows what he did. 

Needless to say, I have zero interest in the pitch these two midday, unwelcome strangers are here to deliver. As I head to the door, I am ready to tell these twenty-somethings that I am not in the mood, I’m feeling ill, I’m napping…Crap, there is a package on the porch.

I open the door just wide enough to retrieve it, which gives my barking little dog the chance he’d hoped for and he dashes out. Still barking, he presses his nose through the protective dog gate I installed after he revealed himself to be a mailman-ankle-biter.

See? This is an unfriendly house. Go away.

As much as I want to, I won’t be rude to a stranger much less this cute couple that’s apologizing for the interruption as they swelter in 90-degree heat, and irritatingly turn my ankle-biter into a hand-licking-traitor.

Okay, let’s hear it. Let’s get this over with so I can get back to my nap.

We are from (blah, blah, blah) and we have some reading materials (blah, blah, blah) the young man says as he holds up his booklet, which I obligingly glance at. 

On the cover, is a man standing in a beautiful graveyard at dusk. He is looking down at a headstone and his shoulders are slightly slumped. 

In bold print, “Is This All There Is?” grabs my attention.

I start tuning him in as he talks about types of loss, and how difficult it can be to move on. Some may feel swallowed up by it, or unable to see what life has to offer after experiencing loss.

For a moment, I wanted to ask, did my Jesus loving sister-in-law send you here? Where is she? She in the car? Around the corner?


The timing of this visit is a little too coincidental. It was just a week ago I was sitting in her kitchen and she was kindly giving me some encouragement to stop what some might describe as…wallowing.

It’s been 7 years since I lost my husband, her brother. It will be 8 years in December. We’d only been married for 1 year and 4 months; we were both 40 when he passed. 

I waited my whole life to meet this man, and in a breath, he was gone.

From the outside, I appear just fine. I did everything right. I stopped drinking for a year, so I wouldn’t add a depressant to my system. I kept busy, and returned to work immediately after the memorial. I packed up the house. I sold it. I started the Insanity workout and got into shape. I remained social. I moved into a small condo and smiledand smiledand smiled.  

I was so good at looking fine, sometimes I worried people thought I was a little too fine.

I read up on grieving and I followed all the rules. I dove into his family and was supportive and present. I hardly shed a tear in public that I couldn’t quickly breathe through and turn into a f-ing smile.

After a couple of years, at the urging of friends and family, I started dating because “it was time.” I’m sure I went out with many wonderful men who’d have been a dream catch for anyone else. Anyone who was in their right mind…but you see, I was not. 

I was incapable of loving someone else.

I moved out of state just before year four. I wanted nothing more than to be completely anonymous; I was so tired of smiling. I smiled everyday at work pretending until I could just go home, shut the curtains and crawl into bed until tomorrow. 

I smiled all the many times when I was at dinner with friends and someone crossed the room to tell me they just wanted to give me a hug, or how they knew my husband, or how sorry they were. 

Since my husband apparently knew everyone, this was happening constantly. Although it was sweet of them, to me, it just felt like getting kicked in the stomach over and over.

This may sound like wallowing, but how can it be when I didn’t cry or feel sorry for myself? 

I didn’t announce to strangers what happened, and I can count on one hand the times I fell apart. Which for me means actual tears for longer than 30 seconds, but still less than a few minutes. 

I am just not a person that cries. 

Okay, sure, when I hear Sara MacLachlan start singing as they show SPCA animals in need of rescue do I run over to the TV and immediately switch it off? Of course, I am not a robot; she gets me every time. 

I cry at rom-coms, at sweet Olympic commercials – but I do not cry for myself. I am just not built that way. See? Not a wallower.

With very few exceptions…

I cried while getting a massage. It was given to me as a gift and I used it about nine months after his passing. The lady who gave me the massage was about my mother’s age. She was kind and had a nurturing quality about her. 

As I laid face down and started to relax, she worked the muscles on my back. It was the first time I had been touched since he died, and the feeling of being cared for was enough to break me.

I cried silently the entire time I was on the table. She graciously ignored the tears streaming down my face and let me weep.

I cried at coffee with a dear friend who asked how I was doing. Somehow my usual answer of ‘fine’ became choked up and I was embarrassed. It had been two years, I was so mad at myself! 

Why was I still crying, and in public no less? Get it together.

I cried the first time I was intimate with another man. This wasn’t my husband and I felt washed over with guilt and shame. I felt like I had betrayed him.

It seems that unless you have a new partner in your life, you are considered broken. 

I am blessed that my husband’s family wants me to be happy. They would love to see me find someone, remarry, and move on. I am fairly certain that if I just had a man at my side and went through the motions of appearing happy the entire family would believe… I am fine.

All, except my sister-in-law. She is like an emotional-ninja when it comes to really seeing people. She looks at me and sees I am hiding…

Hiding in my weight, in my projects, in my very anonymous, private, far away cave that I have come to love in a most unhealthy way. I can put on that smile and damn if she doesn’t see right through it. I really don’t like that about her. 

I don’t like that she used the word wallowing. That she told me to listen to an audiobook, Girl Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis, that as it turns out, is basically a woman who stole my life story, wrote a book about how we can all choose to rise above it all, and also uses that word – wallowing!

So this is twice I have had that word flung in my direction. Obviously, she suggested this book to me as a person whom she believes it can help. 

How dare she? Wallowing? My husband died.

He died and I didn’t allow myself to crumble. I didn’t go off the deep end, or have a midlife crisis and blame it on grief. I may have bought waaaay too many shoes and became a little addicted to the joy of finding an Amazon package at my door several times a week – but overall, I would say I did very well. 

I mean, I have heard stories of people turning to drugs, having blackout alcohol binges, random sex partners, and the doozy of all wallowing…filling Facebook with feel-sorry-for-me updates that cry out for constant attention. I deserve a medal for not losing my damn mind.

I kept it together, at least on the outside. Doesn’t that count? I am good at pretending, but as it turns out, I have deep roots when it comes to love. 

To this day I am still madly in love with my husband.

So in love, I haven’t dated anyone in years. I haven’t grown personally, or taken on a new outlook. I crave to be invisible, making sure not to make waves or even leave a mark. 

I am very still, and extremely close to disappearing altogether. 

Am I wallowing? I don’t think so; I am just, no longer here. I’m no longer even remotely similar to the social, vivacious, happy person I was when I met my husband.

As I recall, my sister-in-law said something about the “old me” as we chatted over the kitchen table last week. What was it she said? The first time she met me, how I was someone with energy, happiness…something like that. 

Now, it would seem, I am a person that receives audiobook suggestions and is talked to like a child who is not living up to their potential. 

What potential? I am forty-seven years old, unmarried, no children and frankly too old to start now. I have no amazing career or personal long-term goals to reach.

I was going to be a wife, a mother and a partner with the love of my life when suddenly my whole world was ripped apart.

I was left alone in the dark, and thrown into a hole so deep it has taken me seven years to start clawing my way out. I am still miles away from anything remotely recognizable as a life, and absolutely no idea which direction to start walking. 

So, did I want someone to magically show up, wrap me in a blanket, feed me hope, energy, love and strength until I burst out of it like a superhero and launch into the sky with my fist in the air? Yes!


I admit it. I can see it now. What my emotional ninja, all-seeing sister-in-law was talking about…the wallowing.

Although I refuse to accept that word as one that describes me, and I know I may be repeating myself, but doesn’t it count that I never broke? That I never crumbled…that I did everything right? Wasn’t never allowing myself to cry in self-pity, the right thing to do? Wasn’t it?

Wasn’t getting up everyday, washing my face and putting that smile on the right thing to do? 

Would I be better today had I let myself give in and feel all of the heart-wrenching emotions I considered self-indulgent and weak? 

If all the times I looked up at the stars and moon and wondered if he can hear me, if he can still see me, if he is there… and didn’t give in to the tears… wasn’t that being strong? Because I heard those words, “you are so strong,” so many times I could scream! 

I pulled up my bootstraps and faced the world. I kept my back straight, a stiff upper lip and my smile ready until finally I gave myself permission to just STOP.  Then, I moved away; I needed to be somewhere I didn’t have to keep up the facade. 

Was that where I went wrong?

During the last few years, I have taken on any project, family crisis, or issue I could get my hands on. While I was busy taking care of others, I didn’t have time to concentrate on myself. I had no idea at the time what I was really doing, was hiding.

It didn’t feel like hiding, it felt like freedom. I stayed home, ate whatever I liked, wore pajamas all day if I wanted, and stopped working out. Over time, I gained 30 pounds, lost touch with friends and haven’t put on my beloved high heels since…I can’t even remember when. 

I told myself I was becoming more natural, low maintenance, less concerned with my appearance or the opinions of others. That I was growing up. This was me and I was happy. Well, happier…except somehow I wasn’t. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am a hermit at heart, and not having to face the world on a daily basis is for the most part, pure bliss. 

At least, until suddenly, I blinked and realized I’d lost the last seven years of my life. 

I’d gone into my self-induced coma and woke to find I am still in the exact same place, just older and heavier. Now I am here, and suddenly aware that I have work to do.

Will I one-day look back and feel that this phase has actually been my weakest? Is that what they all see?

I can no longer ignore that I am letting life pass me by and so I suppose if pressed, we may categorize this as something similar to wallowing.


I take the booklet. I surprise myself with the thought that I might actually read it. The interrupters leave, and I attempt to return to my nap, but now I am wide awake and wondering if the universe is trying to send me a message. 

I already agreed to listen to the audiobook, and so I will continue listening. I will set goals as my sister-in-law challenged me to do. Although doubtful I will do more than skim the booklet given to me by my nap-saboteurs, the timing of the message is not lost on me. 

Wallowing. I suppose at this point there is no other excuse for continuing to be stagnant except my own lack of effort. I am not sure what I would, or could have done differently. I never thought I would still be struggling seven years later and it should be noted, depression is not wallowing.

Depression is chemical and cruel, and its grip is strong. It buries itself deep down, and if you don’t seek help, it may very well take years to dig your way out. I have thought many times of giving up and joining my husband.

Sometimes it feels like I am just here…waiting for life to pass me by and I no longer have the energy to fight, much less care. 

I know though, it’s the depression whispering in my ear. I used to feel like people who felt that way were weak and selfish; now I know that is simply not the case.

I do admit, I needed this perfectly timed kick in the pants by someone who cares enough to wake me up from my fog and tell me I can do better. 

I believe that the grips of depression gave way a while ago, and I just didn’t bother to notice that the chains were no longer there. 

In my lethargy, I flat lined; I hadn’t tried in so long it didn’t occur to me to make an effort. I was…oh dear…wallowing.

Thanks to my sister-in-law and her blunt honesty, I have been given a much-needed dose of perspective. It took a few days, an audiobook that left me with no excuses, and a couple of well-timed strangers, but something feels different. 

I feel something inside of me I have not felt in a long time. 

It is like sparkles… bubbles in champagne. Whatever it is, it feels good.

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