We arrived at Walden around noon. It was Christmas Day and the car park was vacant. The air was warm for late December. The clouds had been chasing the blue across the sky since I woke around 7 am. Now they stretched into thin wisps. It was the most sun Boston had seen for a week or more, and it was glorious. Kari my sixteen year old daughter was with me.
“I don’t want to stay too long,” she announced. “I always think of Jesi when I am here.”
I understood. I did too. It wasn’t that we were trying to forget Jesi. It was just it was our first Christmas since Kari’s twin had passed in early September. It was too sad and it was difficult enough on Christmas day.
Once on the sand Kari and I split up. We had planned to walk the beach in silence. I headed to the water’s edge. Drawn to it by something I didn’t quite understand. A voice inside me asked: Are you in the waves washing up on the shore? I stood staring at them. Nothing answered.
I turned to look toward Kari. She had stopped walking and was now standing in the middle of the beach facing the water. Her legs were tensed as though they were clamped together. As I walked up to her I saw the look of concentration on her face. Her brow was deep with furrows. Not those of a sixteen year old, more like those of an eighty year old. I bent in toward her and kissed her forehead in the middle of those undulating waves of tension. Her face relaxed. I stepped in front of her and wrapped my arms around her tight. First one arm, then the other. We stood clasped together for some moments until I moved around to stand beside her, also looking out over the water, my arm linked in hers.
Then a strange thing happened. I bent down a few feet in front of her and pushed my index finger into the saturated sand. And I started writing. Jesi we miss you. We love you.
Then I stood back up next to Kari and took her hand in mine. We stood there for some minutes until three tourists came toward us and asked a question. Where was Thoreau’s house? I didn’t want to talk, to answer the man. But I did. He wouldn’t understand. Kari remained silent. The man had red hair and a colorful scarf wrapped around his neck which was blowing in the gusty morning air. He looked over to where I pointed to show him the location of Thoreau’s house, the replica and the original site. Then he backed toward me, as though the wind was blowing him. Aware he was walking back into where I had written on the sand Iasked him not to tread on my message. He looked startled and turned, bending and attempting to resurrect the final ‘u’.
“It’s ok, you don’t have to fix it,” I said in response. “I just don’t want you to tread on it.” He apologized, perplexed I imagine, and moved away.
Kari and I continued to stand and look at the message in the sand for quite sometime before we resumed walking. Then the idea came to me out of the wind.
I returned to the car to find Jesi’s angel card which I carried with me always in and placed it in the sand next to Jesi’s name. I almost wasn’t going to leave it there. The laminated card would almost certainly end in the pond. But when I placed it there and asked Jesi what she wanted and she answered inside my head. It belonged at Walden, just as she had that last time she visited in May, just before she went back into hospital for her transplant. Standing in the water, on the wet sand in her bare feet, picking them up high like a stork as the cold water ran over them.
When I walked up the ramp I knew that somehow the angel card would find its way into the heavens, carried by the winter breeze and not into the pond at all.