I feel like crap because I assumed he didn't want to ski with us because I was slower than the guys, and took off without telling us; we skied the same part of the mountain a few more times looking for him and then gave up. (His girlfriend was skiing on the front, on the green run.) But actually he was dead. I didn't have her number, so we just kept calling and texting him and getting no answer.
When we saw ski patrol doing CPR on someone, we got scared; since we were told not to get anywhere near the lift where they were working on him (they'd actually closed the entire area to the public before the toboggan carrying his body arrived), we couldn't tell whether it was him. Just in case, we skied down the front to the main patrol area and described him, and asked if he was with them. They showed us his skis. They were his. I was so horrified. I knew how long it had been since we'd last seen him, and if that's when his heart stopped he was really gone by the time someone started chest compressions. He (his body) wasn't there yet, and they didn't tell us his status, but they took a statement and our phone numbers. We told them where his girlfriend was skiing, described her, and then went out and looked for her but didn't find her. I assumed they were looking for her also.
We were at the top of the hill eating lunch when ski patrol called me, telling me they'd found his girlfriend and would we like to meet her there? We skied down, and the Sheriff's SUV was in front of ski patrol headquarters. She looked really upset; the sheriff listened to us talk, then took photos of my ID and Steve's as well. Then he asked us what made us come talk to ski patrol. Well, seeing the guy in the sled plus our friend being missing was the answer. It turns out his girlfriend had texted him, "Where are you? Did those crazy people finish you off?" and the sheriff had seen that on his phone, so we were being looking at as persons of interest. In all my weird life, that has never happened to me before.
That's when we found out he was dead for certain, and let me tell you, if you feel awkward around bereaved people, try it when it just happened and you were a dick for not keeping track of the person's location. I didn't even know his last name, whether he had kids, anything about his family, had never been to his house . . . I mean, to me he was just this guy who used to be ski patrol and likes to make his own fermented food like Steve. The odds are one in a million that a person will die on a ski trip, especially an experienced person on a groomed run on a day with good visibility. On the other hand, I felt like the odds were one in ten that someone would blow me off if they barely knew me. I wasn't remotely suspicious that something bad had happened to him until he didn't answer his phone or call us back for awhile, but we moved to the front side where at least we had cell reception in case he wanted to reach out.
I felt like she probably hated me for not being with him, or finding her. In context, that makes sense in a way; but if he'd been fine, then assuming we were getting rejected fits my personal history quite well, and made perfect sense to me.
Ski patrol bought us lunch, and I felt like she loathed us less by the end, but she was so sad.
The fucked up thing is that he was exactly Steve's age, but in perfect shape, grew his own food, avoided anything artificial, was slim, and basically did everything right to live a long life. Whereas we're fat and eat bacon. Life makes no sense. Also, someone dies at this ski hill about once every three years - unlike the more dangerous mountain where we used to work - and it's usually an avalanche if the news is anything to go by, so it's not like the attrition rate is outrageous.
The astrology for the likely time of death was the Mars-Venus conjunction rising, square Saturn culminating (Venus approaching the square, Mars separating), and the waning dark Moon detrimented in Capricorn exactly square Jupiter.
Mercury was exactly conjunct my Venus (repeat of the eye surgery transit) and Mars was exactly opposite my Pluto.