August 21, 2011


Park County authorities found a body Saturday on Bison Peak that was believed to be missing hiker Frank Stanley. Stanley, 44, set out to climb the 12,431- foot peak July 25 and sent a text message after reaching the summit — but has not been heard from since. His Jeep was found at the Lost Park Trailhead in the Pike National Forest.

That was the story that ran in yesterday's Denver Post.

These are the things the paper didn't mention: That Frank had been one of my husband's best and most loyal friends since fourth grade. That in high school he bravely stuck with Ben when the cops threw them in jail for lighting off illegal fireworks, and a few years later traveled across the country for Ben's college graduation. That he was the best man in our wedding, and how, a couple of days before the ceremony, when Ben was fretting indignantly about some perceived misbehavior at my bachelorette party, the usually amiable Frank turned to Ben, looked him in the eye, and said "Get over yourself." Which was exactly what Ben needed to hear.

The paper didn't talk about his love of music (especially the blues, and especially Stevie Ray Vaughan), or his amazingly diligent recording of sports statistics, or his devotion to and pride in the kids in his life, from his beloved nephew to his students and the girls on the soccer teams he coached. Or his perpetual drive to be outside in the mountains - skiing, biking, hiking - on pretty much any free day he had.

They didn't mention how much my kid loved his "Uncle Frank," how they bonded over soccer and how Frank, even if he was totally pooped out after a full day of skiing or biking, would always say yes to a quick scrimmage (and attend every one of Jacob's games he could get to). How my heart broke clean in two the moment Jacob realized the significance of the length of time Frank had been missing, and turned to me and said, quietly, "Don't say his name any more, Mom. It makes me too sad."

The paper didn't note the incredible grace with which each and every one of his family members said, "It's such a blessing he went doing something he loved." Or the scene last night in my kitchen, after we received the text saying they'd found him, as I watched my very strong mother-in-law weep for the first time ever in the 15 years I've known her, and heard her say, "Oh, Robyn. It's like we've lost one of you."

We have. We have lost one of us. We will miss him always.