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‘I Started Writing To Survive:’ One Local's Path To Finding A Way Forward After Losing His Son In A Backcountry Avalanche

Courtesy of Mac McShane
In his new book, local resident Mac McShane recalls the last adventure he had with his son, Ben, skinning up Tiehack on a bluebird day in the winter of 2019. McShane writes, “Ben, you and I talked about mortality, but I clearly had no clue about talking about your mortality, I was talking about mine.”

Local psychologist and executive coach Mac McShane and his wife Cynthia Calvin live in the home they built in the Roaring Fork Valley looking out over Mount Sopris. In January of 2019, they lost their only son, Benjamin Hirsch-McShane, who at the age of 35 was killed in an avalanche while skiing on a backcountry hut trip in Montana.

McShane says he began to write as a way to survive, and later to search for a path forward. He just published his first book of poems and prose about the loss of his son, called, “Me in Relationship to You: Reflections on Love Loss, and a Life Well-Lived.”

Morning Edition host Eleanor Bennett recently spoke with Mac McShane about what he uncovered in the process of writing his poetry and sharing it with others.

Eleanor is an award-winning journalist and "Morning Edition" anchor. She has reported on a wide range of topics in her community, including the impacts of federal immigration policies on local DACA recipients, creative efforts to solve the valley's affordable housing crisis, and hungry goats fighting climate change across the West through targeted grazing. Connecting with people from all walks of life and creating empathic spaces for them to tell their stories fuels her work.