A caring counselor with all the answers is sent into a tailspin after a tragic climbing accident on Mount Everest.
When Roberto Sanchez is first introduced, he’s a surly, bitter shell of a man, unable to cope with the horrible loss of his legs—the grim result of surviving a sudden avalanche on the world’s highest mountain. Each day the man wheels into his therapist’s office, he appears darker and more despondent than the day before. His loving wife, Monique, and steadfast daughter, Jenny, are at wit’s end, fearing that although Roberto has survived death, he remains stubbornly locked in the icy clutches of a life-sapping grief. Only when his journal is cracked open, and stories of his many encounters with at-risk kids emerge, is Roberto’s true identity revealed. Despite the nihilism that seeped into his battered and traumatized heart, Roberto was one of the most upbeat and insightful human beings anyone would ever want to meet. Through his work, Roberto practically single-handedly rescued scores of marginalized children from the depths of the bleakest despair. Langedijk’s dialogue-heavy narrative comes alive during these often profoundly moving and genuinely touching vignettes. For instance, Kong, an overweight loner mentored by Roberto, moonlights as an anonymous online angel for other depressed kids like himself while also meticulously describing his efforts to connect in the real world. “I don’t know if you remember,” he tells Roberto, “but purple, purple is where someone says hi or even waves or nods. Well, I don’t know if you noticed but when I first did this I never had any purple, but now every day—purple….Purple!” If that doesn’t loosen a tear, there’s the story in Roberto’s journal of a cheerful doorman named Aaron, who started life as boy-soldier in Joseph Kony’s ghastly Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. Aaron isn’t actually one of Roberto’s young clients, but like Kong and the rest of Roberto’s former charges, he helps the maimed counselor reclaim his passion for life. Langedijk has lots to say about courage, compassion, redemption, and self-worth. Although those life lessons are more compelling than the actual drama unfolding around Roberto’s post-Everest experience, they more than make the journey with him worthwhile.
Meditations on some of life’s biggest questions as told through some harrowing experiences.