Vail Daily letter: My heart is with you
Ryan Summerlin January 14, 2014
My heart broke as I read the news report that another young man had died doing the very thing that gave his life so much meaning. My name is DeDe and I know this story all too well. My son Kai, a native of Idaho, was living in Germany working for The Armed Forces Recreation Center of Europe. He was living his dream. He was skiing all over Europe and loving every breath taking moment he could ski.
He was on a ski trip in Switzerland skiing with his friend when an avalanche broke loose above him. He was swept away over some rock cliffs. His friend Tim was OK because they were doing the right thing. Kai traversed first as Tim waited to make sure it was OK to go. When Tim got to him he was buried up to his shoulders still breathing but not responsive. He died in the rescue helicopter on the way to the hospital. He was just short of his 23rd birthday. This happened March of 2006.
My heart and thoughts are with Tony’s friends and his family. It is so bittersweet. I know Kai died doing the thing that brought him the most joy in life. I know it was an epic day because to Kai all skiing days were epic. He was happy, healthy, living the life he loved every day. He was loved by many. He was kind and generous. He knew his family loved him because we said it often. It’s almost been eight years now and I think about him everyday. There is a painting of him in his helmet, googles, ski jacket and a smile above my fireplace that I get to look at everyday. The memories of him are still clear and vivid because we talk about him. We still laugh and we still cry. Tell his parents to keep the joy that Tony had for skiing close in their hearts. Knowing your child had a love and passion for something healthy and good will help them get through the tough days.
I know all the days are tough right now and they will be for quite some time. The “waves” of pain that come often will come less when their hearts have some time to heal. The feelings your body experiences with grief change. I don’t think the human body could survive in that place forever.
I believe Tony and Kai are somewhere still soaring, having epic days in the best powder ever.
My heart with be with you all on Monday as you celebrate Tony’s life.
Sent with love and sorrow,