One of my favorite movies as I was growing was The Other Side of the Mountain, based on the non-fiction book A Long Way Up: The Story of Jill Kinmont by Evans G. Valens. In this inspirational and heartbreaking true story, Jill is a national championship skier who has a terrible skiing accident, leaving her a quadriplegic right before her 19th birthday. The movie followers her long road to emotional recovery, including her life-changing long-distance romance with Dick “Mad Dog” Buek, himself an exceptional skier and later a stunt daredevil.
Dick proposes marriage to Jill over the phone, and she promises to accept his proposal – but only if he does it in person. While flying his personal plane to ask Jill face-to-face, Dick fatally crashes into Donner Lake in California. In the movie, Jill’s voiceover gives us her outlook on how she comes to terms with yet another tragic loss in her life: “I remember the words that Dick Buek said to me the last time I saw him: "How lucky I am to have found someone and something that saying goodbye to is so damned awful."