I had no idea when I mentioned going to Walden that it would become a family outing, and even then… I had no idea that Jesi* would join us…
As we set off Alan, amazed at the low water level and the fact it was possible to walk all the way around the pond on the shore, Chris and Kari dashing off ahead and tossing a football between them, I scanned the wall looking for signs of swimmers. Given it was over 60 degrees and Christmas Day I knew some hardy soul would be in the water. Sure enough, a cream towel had been carefully laid out on the flat stone surface where only a couple of months ago I had placed my bag before heading into the water. I couldn’t see any sign of who owned it. The water was a still as a mirror.
When we came to Red Cross Beach I called out. “I want to take a photo.” I had warned everyone before we piled into the car to drive out to Walden, so we made our way down to the water. I must have hundreds of photos of Walden in my library, some probably the same scenes in different seasons and weathers, but today I wanted to memorialize the fact our whole family was together at the pond.
When we set off again, we continued along the shoreline. It was then I noticed the water surface, a spear head of fine ripples and at its tip, the slow black circling of arms moving above the water.
For all the unseasonable weather this past few weeks, I knew the water was cold. It was the way that swimmer was moving, every stroke an enormous heaving and slugging to inch forward. For a moment I was back in the water experiencing the cold infiltrating each layer of neoprene until it found my skin. Feeling the pressure of it squeezing my lungs. I shuddered, glad to be on the shore watching and turned my attention back to Chris and Kari who continued to toss the football in front of me. Chris was about twenty feet from me, twisting and throwing to Kari who was striding confidently a couple of yards in front. I reached for my i phone and steadied it for a photo. Snap. I just missed Kari catching the ball, but as she did, an arrow head seared through me. Jesi, a voice in my head shouted. Like a lighting flash her spirit had passed into Kari and together they caught what Chris told me later, was a really good catch. “Of course,” I responded, remembering how Jesi loved to play football with Chris when she was well.
When it happened I had no doubt it was Jesi. I had experienced it before, the flash of knowing that she was present.
The first time it had only been ten day since she passed. I had been poised ready to take a photo, that time of waves crashing into the rocks on Block Island. As I touched the screen that same searing sensation and the voice from no where crying out her name. It had perplexed me then but this time I understood. I replayed that moment over and over, experimenting with the sensation and trying to understand it, desperate to have it back. I have done the same since Christmas Day at Walden Pond, revisiting the photo, looking for any sign of a presence in it that I could not explain, unable to see one…knowing, despite not being able to see…learning to accept my feeling without having proof…wanting proof, wanting…
I thought of Jesi a hundred times that day, and I would continue to do so as we continued on our walk around the pond, when we arrived back at home, opened gifts and when I placed a small angel I had been given on our “Jesi” tree. I thought of her while we prepared to go to dinner and ate at the same restaurant as we had last Christmas. And afterwards, as I gazed up at the full moon and the ghostly shadows of clouds beyond the winter trees and Christmas lights in Fanieul Hall.
But Jesi would not appear again as she did at Walden, for when I was searching for her I could never find her. It was only when I let go of my desperation that she appeared.
I know that is the way with Spirit…