I’ve known only two people who seem to be invincible. People so full of life, energy and passion that—even though I realize it’s wishful thinking—they appear unstoppable. Jim Wilson was one of them.
Conservationist. Activist. A committed advocate for the recovery of grizzly bear populations, and for other wildlife so often targeted by humans. In fact, Jim was pretty bearlike himself sometimes.
I knew him for more than two decades, since he married Glen’s sister Denise. For all that time and well before it, Jim was a man inextricably bound to the American West. Just as forthright, strong and expansive as the mountains he loved. He told great stories and had a contagious, resonant laugh. He was a deep thinker, an attentive listener, a close observer of the natural world and humankind alike. And he was the best brother-in-law ever.
He could also play a hilarious, uproariously vulgar game of Cards Against Humanity. The four of us—Jim, Denise, Glen and I would sit around the kitchen table laughing until we cried, until our stomachs hurt. We’re fortunate to have many memories like these. Someday we can look back on them with a smile.
He lived his life with gusto. On January 29, 2017, we lost him to a tragic accident. He had gone out to help someone who needed him. Because that was Jim.
We love you, Jim, and we miss you terribly. It takes an act of faith—an awful, raw act of faith—to accept what’s happened. I’m not there yet. I doubt that any of us are. I want to believe, though, that already your spirit is soaring among the peaks and booming through the valleys. I have to believe it, because the alternatives aren’t glorious. They’re insupportable.
But Jim . . . God damn it . . . It wasn’t supposed to be like this. The world is too different, too incomprehensible, when you’re not in it. And I just don’t know how we’re supposed to get along without you now. That wasn’t the deal.