Suicide or Salvation
on Rainbow Mountain
by Mary Glaesman and
A Mother?s resurrection of faith A son?s resurrection of hope
Morning along the Turnagain Arm in Alaska is a
pageant. This Easter morning, rose and coral streaked the sky and splashed
among the waves of the incoming tide. I (Mary) surveyed the beauty through
our large picture window overlooking the inlet. Easter is a time for
joyous celebration, but this morning my heart was in a clammy fog of fear.
Marvin?s and my oldest son, Kevin, was leaving
to climb Rainbow Mountain behind our house. He took a gun in case he ran
into a bear, he said, but I knew that wasn?t the reason. Consciousness
came slowly Easter morning. The first thing I (Kevin) became aware of was
the pain. My head felt like it was going to explode. I opened my eyes, and
the light felt like arrows of fire. My tongue was dry and swollen. I sat
up and became dizzy and nauseous.
Staggering over to the sink, I began to vomit. I
stuck my head under an ice-cold stream from the faucet. Shaking, I made my
way to the living room.
I had awakened like this many times ? sometimes
in the homes of people I didn?t know; sometimes in a hospital; many
times in jail; once in an insane asylum. I would try to piece together
what had happened. I realized this time I was at my parents? home.
Briefly, I relished the safety of their Christian home. I could hear them
getting ready for the morning service at First Assembly of God in
Memories of the night before rushed in. I
remembered the police at the apartment where my wife, Sandy, and I lived.
The kids, screaming; the police, taking a gun I had been threatening Sandy
I had blown it ? again.
My life had become an endless series of drinking
binges followed by overwhelming remorse and guilt. Brief periods of
sobriety would sometimes give me hope. During these respites, I would find
work, get a place to live and start attending church. Then I would begin
drinking again. Within weeks I would be back on the streets. This Easter
morning was painful, because I had just reunited with my wife and kids. My
best effort had ended in failure.
I gazed out at the beautiful scenery. I remembered the times I?d spent
as a youngster, hiking and camping. I had felt close to God then. Where
had He gone?
My mother asked softly, "Kevin, will you go
to church with us?"
I couldn?t bear the thought of shaking through
a service, while the minister talked about things that seemed to apply to
everyone but me. Maybe Christ did rise from the dead. So what? It hadn?t
made a difference in my life. I told my mom I was going hiking to try to
clear my head.
On impulse I (Mary) grabbed and hugged Kevin as
he went out the door. His eyes, full of pain, refused to meet mine. I
watched as he made his way up the slope and disappeared into the trees.
As we drove to church, I felt like there was ice
in my veins. My son was on the mountain with a gun and a full load of
guilt and self-loathing. Our delightful child ? full of laughter, full
of surprises ? lived life on the edge from the day he was born. He was
always the pivot of adventure ? and misadventure. Then came drugs and
alcohol. On his 14th birthday he came home from school out of his mind on
some hallucinogenic, while I struggled to disarm him of a butcher knife.
Life became a grim nightmare. Kevin seemed bent
on destroying himself. Deeper and deeper our family was drawn into a dark
and dizzy spiral. We visited him in reform school and then jail. Six
months earlier we had stopped by his dingy apartment and found him lying
on a couch, his wrists slashed.
Caring and counseling, tough love and tears,
nothing and nobody seemed to be able to make a difference.
Consumed with self-pity and remorse, I (Kevin)
made my way up the mountain. No path, just game trails. After a while the
brush thinned and the terrain turned into steep meadows dotted with spruce
trees and large boulders. I began to feel peaceful. Soon it would be over.
Since God would not come to me, I reasoned, I would go to see Him. I didn?t
see how He could hold it against me since He was avoiding me. Besides, it
was only a matter of time before I killed somebody. Better myself than
I continued toward the rocky peak.
As the congregation sang, I (Mary) thought, isn?t
faith meant for the direst circumstances? That first Easter morning of
triumph had followed an ordeal of deepest agony and despair. God?s Son
had cried out, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?"
The ice in my veins began to thaw. I prayed,
"Jesus, please help my son to know that life is worth living, because
As I broke out of the tree line, I (Kevin) came
face to face with a man about my age. He was clean-cut with short dark
hair and glasses. He had on a light windbreaker and tennis shoes. He
looked out of place. Then I realized how I must look: dirty unkempt
shoulder-length hair, unshaven, an old leather coat with the bulge of a
large handgun in a shoulder holster.
He looked happy to see me. "Hi," he
said. "What are you doing up here?"
Unzipping my jacket so he could see the gun, I
told him I was hiking.
"Could I hike with you?" he asked.
"Look," I said, "I?m not in a
great mood. You want to tag along for a little ways, fine; but don?t
Silently he fell in behind me. After a little
while I angrily confronted him. "You?re not one of them Christians,
He looked me in the eye and said softly,
"Yes, I am."
I started back up the mountain. Christian or not,
he had to realize he was in a dangerous situation. I thought about
shooting him in the foot, but I had the impression it wouldn?t deter
him. I made one last try to get rid of him. I sat down on a rock and
glared at him.
"OK," I said. "This is as far as
you go. What are you doing up her anyway?"
He told me he had awakened in the middle of the
night, feeling he should climb a mountain. He tried to shake the feeling,
but it was so strong he couldn?t go back to sleep. He went to an Easter
sunrise service. By the time the service was over, the feeling was so
strong he knew he had to go climb. When he reached the peak, he sat down.
Nothing happened, so he got up to head back down the mountain; but instead
of going down the way he came, he felt he should go down the other side,
even though it would take him miles from his car. He had been on his way
down for about 20 minutes when he ran into me.
"Don?t know what?s going on," he
said, "but I do know you?re not supposed to kill yourself this
I began to weep. He sat down, put his arm around
me and joined in. Then we made our way down the mountain together.
I (Mary) opened the door to our home,
reluctantly. Our son and a stranger were there. The stranger introduced
himself as John and explained why he was there. In all those miles of
mountains along Turnagain Arm, he found our mountain. In all those acres
of wilderness with no trails, he met our son.
Two more heartbreaking years passed before Kevin
found permanent sobriety, but that Easter morning made a difference for
me. I knew that the victory won by God?s Son on His mountain was a
victory for all of us.
It has been 20 years since (Kevin) hiked up
Rainbow Mountain. I can still see John bounding up to me as clearly as if
it happened this morning.
When I headed up the mountain that Easter
morning. I had it in my head that I was going to go to meet God. I did ?
and I?m so glad He was happy to see me.
Kevin Glaesman is available for speaking engagements. You can contact
him at ph: 907-586-2076, fax: 907-780-6322, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org