He couldn't see out of his right eye. He reached up. It was full of blood and caked over. Was his eyeball hanging out? No, it was still in place. He carefully parted his eyelids. The sweet turquoise stillness of Grinnell Lake shimmered nearly 1,500 feet below him. He could see. He was relieved.
She had played dead, and the bear had moved on. She assessed her injuries. A bite on her shoulder as deep as a knuckle. Lower lip torn down to her chin. Hair caked with blood.
Her father's voice was the best sound she'd ever heard.
"Are you OK?" he asked.
"I'm OK. How are you?"
"I'm bleeding a lot." He thought of his own injuries and of his daughter's appearance. "How's your face? Did it get you?"
"Just my mouth."
"And your eyes?"
He could tell by the sound of her voice that she was OK. Thank you, God.
He gazed up into the sky above Mt. Gould on the far side of the valley. He thought of the people he knew who were dead. His mother and father. Thank you, Mom, and thank you, Dad, for being an energy that he could draw on. Somehow it made him less afraid.
And thank you, Sophie. She was a patient of his, an 80-year-old woman who had died last year. They had grown close as Johan worked with her. She would complain — I'm going to die, she'd say — and he'd tell her to be quiet. You're not going to die, Sophie. And to think he nearly had.
And thank you, Steve, his father-in-law, Marilyn's dad, who had become his own dad in a way.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Then he called back to Jenna. "It got me kind of bad."
It was the only time he told her how he felt. After that, he turned stoic. No complaining. No despairing. He knew his dad would have reacted the same way. He chalked it up to being Dutch: You take care of yourself and your children. Jenna would do the same.
Together, unprompted, they began to call out.