Sometimes in the middle of the pond I hear voices. They do not come from the inside of me like the groan and heave of breath and blow. I hear them when I raise my head into the air high enough so that I see sky.
The first time it happened I felt fear rise out of me.
It was last summer, a time I was rushing between Walden and Childrens Hospital Boston seethed with anxiety over my daughter’s health. She had just undergone a bone marrow transplant. The voices were melodic, a choir of harmonious chords singing gospel.
Not weeks before, whilst waiting for a cardiac catheter to be placed in her heart she sat in her hospital bed, attended on by the head of the ICU and a host of other doctors I had not met until that afternoon, and suddenly said “I’ve been hearing gospel singing all day.”
Her comment jolted through me like a bolt of lightning, though at that point I had no real knowledge at all of life and the afterlife and the journey from the physical into the spiritual. But since she passed away over ten months ago now I have pieced my beliefs into a quilt to shelter me from the loss. Something told me then her condition was grave, a fact that months later was confirmed.
The gospel singing frightened me, almost as much as it did when I would visualize the face of the Buddha from the middle of the pond, a device I used to keep my mind from wandering into more dangerous thought territory and her face would appear next to that of the Buddha. “I’m afraid she will be taken from us,” I told my therapist. And not too many months later she was.
Now as I swim in the middle of the pond, living after the loss as I never thought I would be able, I hear gospel singing. I think of Jesi. Not a day or a swim goes by when I do not.
And sometimes when I look across the shiny translucent surface of the pond, when not a breath of breeze disturbs it, I feel water swirling beneath and about me. I look around expecting to see the arms of a swimmer splashing somewhere close but no one is in sight. I smile. “Jesi’s here,” I say to myself. Other times I feel a presence and it does not dawn on me for a long while. Then suddenly I notice it.
I am no longer afraid because I know she is everywhere now, even though I cannot see her. I can feel her and I am comforted she no longer suffers like she did last summer.