Laura Berridge on inpsiration and a love affair with climbing

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I can never compare my friendship with Liz Daley in the way many of you can. I worked with Liz for about three years on and off. We spent most of our time working together giggling, speaking our version of Spanglish, and her telling me about her latest adventures. Liz was the type of person that sparkled, even if you just knew her for a brief period of time. When I got the news of her death on September 29, 2014, I remember feeling gutted. I had recently gone through a break-up, hated my job, and felt alone. It was only a few days prior that I was contemplating reaching out to her and finally taking her up on the offer to go rock climbing. I cannot change things, and never will be able to. I was so lost when Liz died. I hated myself, my life, and that I was a bystander in life.

The outpouring of love and admiration that Liz received even in death was mind blowing. It is amazing how much one person can change a community. Liz’s passing woke me up and made me face reality of my situation. She lived a million lifetimes in her short amount of years on Earth. Experiencing as much as life had to offer her, with her classic smile on her face and her positive attitude. I had been obsessed with mountaineering since I was 16, but my confidence never allowed me to really push myself to do it.

On January 1, 2015, enough was a enough. I started hiking as much as a possibly could, the beauty in the world around me saved me. I built my confidence, I saw the world, my community, and myself differently. About a year ago, I started rock climbing. It is my great love affair. I love everything about it, the places I climb, the amazing people from all different walks of life I meet, and the way it makes me feel. Most of all, I feel like myself. I love who I am, I feel empowered, and I see why Liz loved it so much. Although, I have a degree from the University of Washington, have lived the corporate life, and live just outside the city, I find inspiration from the life Liz Daley lead. I don’t need all of those things to make me happy. It is following my passion and being with my community that makes me complete.

When Liz died, I promised myself that I would “live like Liz,” and do my best to honor the memory of an amazing woman that I had the pleasure of knowing. Even in death, people can inspire us to be better. Liz, you have done this for me. Over the next year, I will be focusing on getting my Single Pitch Instructor for Rock Climbing, Wilderness First Responder, and work towards starting my own non-profit to help others to feel empowered with outdoor activities. Life is so unbelievably short, and I do not want anyone to ever spend a moment not living. Liz will forever hold a special place in all of our hearts. I chose to honor her by smiling and living my adventure.

-Laura Berridge

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