Let me tell you a quick story about the picture you see here.
I had a friend snap it for me moments after we arrived early in the morning at Cape Spear in St. John's, Newfoundland. Cape Spear is an extremely popular site to catch the first sunrise in North America, and we were among dozens of others who had arrived to enjoy the spectacle at the easternmost spot on the continent.
I'm no different than a lot of travelers who seek to get that awe-inspiring photo.
I have often walked out toward the edge -- of a stunning geological formation, a fortress or temple wall, a protruding seaside rock or canyon ledge -- in order to create the desired perspective to fully encompass the scale of the natural attraction I was visiting.
I am always alert and careful, and I never put myself too close to the precipice. In fact, I don't like heights, especially the "looking over the edge" viewpoint.
My visit in Cape Spear was no different, and I quickly got my shot to document my visit and sat down to await the sunrise with the growing throngs of other excited early-risers.
Moments later, a woman slipped and fell off the edge of the cliff.
As shocking as it is to read that, imagine how it was for those of us who were present as it happened. Fortunately, I didn't see the fall. But I and others near my vantage point noticed a stir about 20 feet to my left. Word quickly spread that someone had fallen, and horror and panic set in as we tried to figure out what to do. Emergency calls were made, at least one person was able to find a way down to her. But we soon knew the result was the worst outcome.
She had died.
Her sister was there, and I can still hear her pained wails and see her crumple to the ground as those near her did their best to comfort her.
The lady who fell was Kim Hix, 53, who was visiting Newfoundland from Chicago. You can find more about her in this story that recalls her passion for the music on the island. She sounds like an awesome person, and it's terribly sad.
One moment she was excited to be at Cape Spear enjoying this special time with her sister. The next, she was gone. It gives me chills to think about that. There is nothing to indicate she did anything wrong. She just slipped.
It also resonates in a way that further reinforces the notion of how precious life can be. How important it is to savor every single moment that we have.
But also to be extra careful when we do this.
I look at the picture at the top of this post, and I am certain that I was cautious enough and had safe footing.
But still, I will always keep this incident in mind when considering that perfect "Look at me" photo as I travel the world. I encourage you to all do the same.
Thanks for reading.