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Widow Thankful for Her Husband's Life and Witness

Kelly James was a 48-year-old landscape architect who loved to climb mountains. On December 9 of 2006, he and two of his friends set out to climb Mount Hood in Welches, Oregon. Tragically, they were caught by a sudden blizzard after reaching the summit, and forced to take shelter in a snow cave. Kelly was able to use his cell phone to call his family and tell them what was going on, but the storm was too severe for rescue workers to operate. All three hikers eventually perished.

In an interview with Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News, Kelly's widow, Karen James, demonstrated the extreme faith in Jesus Christ that had defined life for the couple. During the interview, Couric asked if Karen was angry at all with her husband for choosing to climb in the first place. She replied: "I'm not angry. I'm really sad our journey is over, for a while, and I miss him terribly. But he loved life so much, and he taught me how to love. He taught me how to live. And I don't know how you can be angry at someone who loved their family, who loved God…and gave back so much more than he took."

When asked how her husband would like to be remembered, Karen referred to his faith in Jesus: "Kelly had this little ornament, and he's had it since he was little. It's a manger. It's just this little plastic thing. And it's always the tradition that [our son] Jack and Kelly put it on the tree together. And so I said this Christmas, 'We're going to put that ornament on the tree.' And one of the things that we really understand about Christmas is that little baby born in a barn is the reason our family has so much strength now. And that is really important to Kelly."

Impressed by the strength of Karen's faith, Couric asked if the family's confidence in God had been tested by her husband's death. "No, it was never tested," Karen answered. "I remember one time we were watching TV, and Kelly said to me, 'I can't wait to go to heaven.' And I said, 'What?' We were watching some show that had nothing to do with it. And he said, 'Yeah, that's going to be really cool.' And I said, "Can you hold off? Can we wait?' But he wasn't scared. And so those conversations are what I hold on to."

To conclude, Couric asked Mrs. James if there were any lessons that could be learned from her husband's tragedy. Karen replied: "I've told a colleague of mine that men should hold their wives really, really tight, because you don't know when our journey's going to end. My journey ended with an 'I love you.' And…for others, if their journey ends with an 'I love you,' it's a lot to hold onto."

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