We follow Uncle John into the study. I'm sure dad and Uncle Joe have questions. Uncle John looks my way and I take it that it is my turn to tell them what I know.
"Do they know where she was?" I ask looking at Uncle John. He shakes his head no. I sigh. "Bobbi lied. She didn't go trekking through Europe. She went to Nepal."
"Please, don't tell me she tried to climb the big one," my dad says and I nod.
"Has she lost her mind!" Uncle Joe asks incredulous.
"Guys, please," Uncle John says a little exasperated.
"Anyway. Bobbi went forged her parents' signature and went to Nepal."
"Didn't anyone check?" Uncle Joe asks frustrated.
"Seriously, Joe?" Uncle John asks raising an eyebrow at his brother. "When did this ever matter? Whenever Bobbi wanted something she got it. Don't worry, she'll get punished for this."
"What happened?" dad asks.
"They went through with it," I say.
"Who did?" dad asks.
"Eli, Mickey, Scott, Jeff and Bobbi and a few tourists Eli picked up. They climbed the mountain on the 10th of May."
"That's when we first found out where she was. Remember?" Aunt Annie asks looking around, waiting for us to give any sign that we remember that moment. Of course we do. I was as shocked as anyone else when Bobbi, out of the blue, called and told us where she was. "She called for my birthday and then she told us."
"On their way back down they were hit by a violent storm. Six people died, including Eli and Mickey," I tell them. At that, both dad and Uncle Joe gasp in surprise. They all knew each other and that's why Uncle John didn't freak out when Bobbi went climbing. She always went with someone she knew, but more importantly someone he trusted who would keep her safe. But we all know that the mountain will claim you, if you aren't strong enough. God knows how often I was in that situation, the freezing cold creeping in and just waiting for you to give up. I was always one of those to show the mountain the finger when it tried to kill me, but others weren’t as tough. If dad or Uncle John would know how close Bobbi or I came to die up on mountains they would kill us with their bare hands. They never really forbade us to climb any mountain we wanted, but they had rules. And one of those was not to climb dangerous ones. And Everest is in the top three of very-dangerous-with-killing-potential-mountains.
"I can't believe their they're gone," dad says. He and Mickey had been friends since middle school.
"Poor, Bee. That must have hit her hard. Mickey was like an uncle to her and Eli was like a big brother," Uncle Joe says absentmindedly, while sitting down into the armchair near the bookshelf.
"It's hard for her. She cried a lot, but the worst part is that she is shutting us out," I say.
"She needs time to heal. Maybe if she stays home as we planned she will find a new routine and to help her get passed it," Aunt Annie says.
"I hope you guys haven't forbid her to climb," Uncle Joe says and both Aunt Annie and Uncle John look at him shocked.
"Joe, she lied. I won't allow that," Uncle John says sternly.
"I know. But she loves climbing. You can't just take it away from her. I understand she needs to learn to be more responsible, but don't take away what she loves most."
"And what do you suggest?" Uncle John asks. I look between my uncles trying to say something but quickly close my mouth.
"Go camping with her. Allow her to go back to the mountains, don't take that away from her," Uncle Joe says.
"I think you are exaggerating, Joe," Aunt Annie argues. Of course she thinks that. She doesn't get how important climbing is to Bobbi.
"No, he isn't," dad says. "Imagine someone taking away your designs from you. Think of how would that make you feel," he says gravely and Aunt Annie shoots him a glare.
"That's not the same thing and you know it," she says tilting her head a little.
"Maybe not for you, but it is if you think about it. Whether you admit it or not, Bee is a pro. She climbed four summits in four years," dad says.
"I thought she had to climb more mountains to be a professional," Aunt Annie says confused.
"That's not what he meant," I say and look at Uncle John who shakes his head. Oh, she doesn't know. Jesus, how can Bobbi keep this from her family?
"What aren't you telling me?" Aunt Annie asks looking around.
"Sweetheart, please sit down. There's something you don't know," Uncle John starts saying. She sits down reluctantly and he tells her how their baby girl not only climbed a few dozen mountains, no, she climbed four of the highest in the world. He was there when she climbed Mount Kosciuszko in Australia. I was there when she climbed Mount Vinson in Antarctica and a year later Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. If she would have told me she planned on climbing the tallest of them all I would have gone with her. But as it is she didn't. I guess I understand why. Though she is being her own person, when she is with the other climbers, Bobbi always felt like the baby. Either Uncle John or I, dad or even Uncle Joe was there with her. She wanted to prove that she could do this on her own. And she did, which makes me very proud. But the cost was too high.