Katie: A Mt. Hood Widow Speaks

On tonight's CBS Evening News, Katie has an exclusive interview with the widow of one of the climbers from Mt. Hood. Here, she offers some of her impressions of Karen James. -- Ed

Meeting and talking with Karen James -- the widow of Mt. Hood climber Kelly James -- I was impressed by her remarkable strength, eloquence and grace. And she has something powerful to tell us all. About courage. About faith. About love.

She wanted to do the interview, she said, in part to thank the rescue workers who had done so much to try and save her husband. That, I think, shows the kind of selfless person she is. And I got the impression her husband was like that, too.

He must have been an amazing man. That came through when she spoke about him. He loved life, and he loved mountain climbing, and she embraced his passion for it wholeheartedly. He was an extremely optimistic person, she told me, and I think he must have hoped, with every passing day, that he would be found.

I sensed that she is still in a bit of shock, but I think she's deriving tremendous support from his four children, who range in age from 12 to 25. They're a deeply religious family -- two of his sons have done mission work -- and I believe that faith has given her great peace, solace and comfort.

She told me that sometimes Kelly would say "I can't wait to go to heaven," and she'd say, joking, "let's not rush it, okay?"

At this time of year, I think Karen James gave all of us a gift, reminding us about what's important. That, too, is part of her husband's legacy. She told me he never missed opportunities to tell people he loved them, and that he really "seized the day," making every moment count.

He sounds like he was an absolute joy to share a life with.

Finally, I was struck by the fact that Karen isn't angry, isn't bitter. She's clearly a woman with a great support system, and a great spirit.

I felt very privileged to be sitting across from her and listening to what she had to say.