The elation of spring permeates the air, and families are enjoying (hopefully) the last of winter. “This is the last time you’ll be able to walk on the pond” I hear a dad say to his two young daughters. Later I watch as he slides along the ice in boots that look too big for his feet. His wife watches in amusement as their young girls skid and slide after him. “See, I told you I could walk on water,” the father grins to his wife. Suddenly I feel like I want to glide. A cross between sliding as they do, and flying like a bird above water, wings outstretched, low to the surface. Freedom surges somewhere inside, watching their joy, feeling my own spirit soar through the sun warmed air. Thinking that perhaps, yes, perhaps after all, winter will end.
I do not have long to fantasize today. With the challenges of nursing a teenager suffering cancer’s effects and side effects, the lethargy and fatigue, the loss of appetite for food, taking medications and sometimes, it seems, for involvement in the world around her, i do not have time to walk far on the slightly slushy ice Walden hides beneath.
I walk past Red Cross beach watching splinters of crystal ice shatter and split off as my boots scrunch down. I watch them skate on the ice as the sun glints through them. I stop to pick up a piece. It is octagonal, rough edged and imperfect with tiny bubbles of thaw inside its icy shell. Imagining the sun reflecting through it, a rainbow of color. I hold it up, carefully turning it in my hands. I want to capture its delicate beauty, hold onto it, yet I know that the warmth in my fingers will destroy it.
I want to take it back home to my daughter. “Here Jesi, here is a piece of Walden I’ve bought for you.” She would love to be here with me, but it is such effort for her to dress, to leave the house, to walk. It would take so much energy that the chemotherapy has leached out of her to get her down the ramp to even walk on the sunken moulds of sandy snow. Her balance never properly returned after severe neuropathy struck during her first cancer treatment in 2010. The ice would be treacherous for her, not fun as the family of daughters I had watched earlier.
But she would love it. She’s like that, loving the things that I love, Walden, dogs, cats, sunshine. She rejoices in the joy of others, even if she has forgotten how to feel joy for herself.