More Than Just a Swim

It has been five days since my last visit to Walden. This morning the weather tempted me to go. The weather and a text from a friend who was on her way there. I am exhausted from too little sleep and too much worry. I think of my friend as I drive alongside the River Charles. Snatching glances at the stillness of water between the trees. Wishing I was to be plunging into the cool refreshing waters to float.

Instead I am going to Boston Children’s Hospital to witness a miracle.

My friend anticipating my struggle, texts, “just close your eyes and imagine yourself entering that cool delicious water….ahhh, instant relaxation.”


I walked into the darkening waters. Starting my swim along the beach toward the boat ramp. The buoys had been placed for the summer season, reaching out from the shore and following the curve of the pond all the way from the main beach to the far end of Red Cross Beach. It was as though they were going to float all the way down the right side of the pond.

My friend had warned me that the outcome of the meetings to discuss open water swimming meant a change to where swimmers could enter the water. But I had not anticipated this increased segmentation of Walden. I checked with the lifeguards to make sure I could enter from beyond the main beach. Looking straight out into the body of Walden. I thought of all the open water swimmers who would want to follow the shoreline to feel safe. They could start from beyond Red Cross beach and shorten their swim down the right side to Sandy Point and Thoreau Cove, but they could not swim the long stretch of the pond anymore. I knew they would not swim the left shore line with its convoluted wanderings in and out of coves. It seemed seldom swum in comparison to the well used passage down the right side.

I wondered how they felt.

I launched myself into the dark mysterious green. I would not have chosen to swim the middle without assessing how my body was feeling this early in the season but I wanted to swim the distance. I did not know when I would be able to get there again.

I have been swimming Walden for years, in all weather, zig zagging patterns across her from shore to shore. One time in my swimming ‘hey day’ I remembered spending an hour and twenty minutes crossing and recrossing her, visiting the coves of her left side, scooping in and out following her less traveled shore, knowing the cove I was in through the design of the pebbles of her shallows. I loved her then, she felt so safe and familiar. She felt like home.

That was ten years ago, when my land home was fraught with fighting, and Walden was refuge from my dissolving marriage.

I headed straight out, thinking of one daughter on the beach, sleeping and tanning, enjoying the fading sun. The other, her twin, sleeping in a hospital bed in Boston. The miracle about to happen, the journey to the other shore. Mine. Hers. The swell of wind waves, the tumultuous ride through transplant. Chemotherapy, radiation, new bone marrow. Cells that would be floated into her blood stream to find their own way home.

I hardly raised my head to watch my own progress across the pond, trusting I would know. Just as I trusted Jesi would be guided safely to the other shore. From four years of cancer, into the shelter of wellness.


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