LITTLETON, Colo. (KDVR) — A Littleton mother is preparing to make a powerful journey in honor of her son Jake, a fallen Marine.
Krista Meinert and her daughter Randi plan to climb the highest mountain in the western hemisphere, Aconcagua in Argentina.
“I think the whole thing is about the process,” Meinert said.
Walking a mile in her shoes would give you the kind of perspective most of us couldn’t imagine.
“Losing a child, you can’t put words into it,” said Meinert.
Her son, Jake, was a fire team leader with the Marine Corps and was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010.
“He stepped on an IED, they couldn’t get to him right away. So he ended up dying in the helicopter on the way to the hospital,” Meinert told FOX31.
It’s a moment Meinert said she will never forget.
“I saw the two Marines coming and I knew, I knew what was about to happen,” she said. “I yelled, ‘Don’t open that door’ because I didn’t want to be told.”
After Jake’s death, Meinert visited her niece in Colorado to climb Quandary Peak with her daughter Randi.
“It was miserable. Like every step was so hard to take a breath,” Meinert said.
Fast forward a few years later, Meinert started going through photos and came across one from the summit of Quandary.
“It was for me, the first time I actually had an authentic smile on my face after I lost my son,” said Meinert.
So, now her goal is to climb the highest points in each state.
“I can’t remember how many I have now, but I think I have eight left,” Meinert said. “I would like to finish with Hawaii because that’s where Jake was stationed, so that’s my goal.”
The mountains are where the family finds healing.
“It also puts me in a place where I know my son was in a really, really tough spot, and it’s like I can do this too,” Meinert said. “I can be in a tough spot, too.”
Meinert and Randi’s next mission will be to spend three weeks climbing to an elevation of more than 22,000 feet.
“There’s an organization called TAPS, for military lost, and they do expeditions. They sent an email saying, ‘Does anybody want to come on this climb to Argentina?’ And here we are,” Meinert said.
Even though they miss Jake’s pranks and contagious laugh.
“Just running round the house together being silly little kids, I feel like he was my first best friend,” Randi, Jake’s sister, said.
They know he would be proud of their process.
“Grief catches people in different ways, in different times,” Meinert said. “I think if you’re in that position, find something that brings you joy and stick with it.”
The Meinerts are preparing for their trip to Argentina in January.
What makes this trip special is that they plan to do it on the same day Jake died so they can honor him.
If you would like to help with expenses for the trip, you can click the link to their GoFundMe.