When I walked out of my acupuncturist’s office on Friday afternoon the sun called me to Walden. But soon the blue backdrop behind it faded into mauve, long strands of cotton wool stretched across the sky. For a while there was light shining out of them, the cool pale golden glow of a winter afternoon as it dwindled into evening.
In my car choral music heralded Christmas. Voices melted into harmony inside some holy temple as I make for mine. By the time I parked in the lot across from the pond, the music had become insistent and I was glad to leave it.
Heavy strands of cotton wool now completely obliterated the blue. They were no longer pastil purple but a somber grey rolled out of the sky.
I walked down the steps on the beach and into the footsteps of friends, some swimmers I hadn’t seen for weeks. It is like this when the winter comes. We all disperse to warmer corners, lingering until the sun and its blaze brighten the May sky. They did not recognize me as my hood was pulled so far down across my face. I stopped, said hello, exchanged greetings. Then I knew I must be going before the cold burrowed me into the freezing ground.
I took the left side of the pond avoiding the breeze, looking down as one foot stepped in front of the other. I marched forward slowly into winter’s heart.
I thought I was alone, but was surprised to see an older man whom I knew to be a photographer close behind me. I did not want to stop and talk, or even walk and talk. I was lost in thoughts of Jesi. She lingered in the cold air around me.
But it was difficult for me to concentrate, so I said hello.
I knew Konstantin for his minute detailed shots of the woods and water of Walden. But I remembered him best from a conversation we had one winter’s evening.
“We were standing on Red Cross Beach,” I recalled. “You were waiting for the sunset. Your camera was set up on a tripod perched in the snow.” I pointed, “Over there.”
He remained silent.
“I often see your photos on Facebook. I like the Walden ones best.”
“Hmm. Yes, I remember.” he replied. “You were with your daughter.”
We had been walking and talking about photography, I with my I phone 5 camera, his, a SLR with a telescopic lens. I had been biting back tears as they welled up inside me. Jesi had an SLR. It sits in its case in her bedroom now, with so many of her personal possessions, untouched but loved and looked upon every day. Every morning I open her door and stand in front of her photo which hangs above her bed, her eyes looking out at me.
“Yes,” I replied to Konstantin. “She passed away recently.”
I was standing looking out over the pond. We were together on the main beach, looking out.
“What!” Konstantin shrieked, his voice echoing through the empty air.
“Yes.” I paused. “I feel her here. She loved to come here with her camera.”
I looked across to Red Cross Beach. I could almost see Jesi, her tight black jeans hugging her slim legs. Her chunky scarf wrapped around her neck and hanging loose over her black jacket. Her grey and white beanie with its pom pom bobbing as she walked. She wore black boots, not snow boots, so she trudged through the snow slowly, carefully picking her way. Her lingering neuropathy made walking on the uneven unforgiving snow a challenge. Yet she never complained. She just focused her camera on whatever took her fancy and made art. Those photos still sit on a memory stick inside that camera. Memories of memories.
I told Konstantin how Jesi had relapsed in January and gone into bone marrow transplant in May.
“She never came out.” I was fighting tears. The pressure of loss burst out of my chest.
Konstantin cussed gently. And then whispered “I’m sorry.”
We do not know what shape or form life will take tomorrow..