Reaching the Shore of a Home Far Away

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I tell the doctor I have stopped meditating. I say it not as a rebellion against taking care of myself, but as an indication of the extent to which the thumping in my head has disrupted my life. Sitting in silence and observing the thoughts wander through the throbbing caverns of my brain is not possible without magnifying the bounding pain. I become nothing but a pulsation of mindmatter.
So instead I take my mindmass into the pond. “I have been swimming a lot” I tell her.
I wonder if she is understands the connections I am making…

Long ago, when I first sat on a cushion, I believed it was to quieten the mind. These days I tend to observe instead where it takes me. Just as I do when I am making my way across the pond. A thousand thoughts topple headlong into the swirl, some to be gobbled up by the bubbles I expel, others drowned by my feet flipping them over and under as they flutter along. The mindmass of pain is muted by the rhythm of body and breath; the distraction of my surrounds. I drift along the surface of the world, my alligator eyes observing each side; the green forest until I reach the tranquil waters of the furtherest cove.
The morning following the third anniversary of Jesi’s passing I am gliding through the middle of the pond when I am over taken by an unexpected sensation. I feel a swelling in my chest, a knowing beyond all doubt that only I, only here in the middle of this deep body of water, can connect my three children, two on earth and one in heaven. And it can only happen through the pureness of the motherlove I hold in my heart for them. For it is the mother that bore them that has that ancient connection to her children. And in Walden I connect with Jesi, a place she loved as much as I. This moment of love bursts forth inside me as I continue to glide along the surface of the pond, uninterrupted in the rhythm of my stroke for some moments, until inevitably I am pulled by earth force back into the water I am negotiating. The cool I am immersed in becomes real. The sandy shore to one side, the forest necklace to the other. Uninterrupted I still slide on with alligator eyes above the water, peering into the deep dark emerald jewel I have been gifted. Further into the cove, almost magical, the sun peaks out from behind puffy white clouds, spreading her warmth on the velvety surface. I reach beneath me, a chill crawls up my arm, the changing water temperatures with the depth. Simultaneously I am gripped by some force I cannot know which pulls me into a mechanistic churning and breathing, the rhythm taking over. And as I watch the sun twinkle and sparkle she sends fine silver threads of silk, a hand spanning the forest to the water’s surface. The threads cast a spell enough that I have no will of my own. The sensation of Jesi’s presence is so strong, hovering somewhere at the end of those fine silk threads of sun splinters, somewhere far far up in the heavens… so strong I find myself calling urgently Jesi, come back.

It has been three years since Jesi left us and I will never give up wanting her back.

I am in the cove now and heading straight for land. A single figure walking on the bank breaks the spell. I sweep my arms in a circular turn as not to interrupt the rhythm and turn to make my way back to the only home I know.

Jesi, I know, inhabits another far away.

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Walden’s New Visitors Center Opens

On Tuesday the sun split a seam in the afternoon cloud cover to shed her warm September light on the large crowd gathered across the road from Walden Pond. It was there, dressed in better than beach going clothes, in better than hiking clothes, about a hundred people assembled to celebrate the opening of Walden’s New Visitor Center.

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Given the design of the Center it was appropriate that the opening be blessed with a break in what had promised to be a cloudy and possibly even wet day. With its ceiling to floor triple-paned glass windows overlooking a large deck and facing the south, the light and warmth flowed into the large auditorium. It is this natural lighting, and the cross ventilation from windows on both sides of the building that sleek armed ceiling fans will use as alternatives to electricity and air-conditioning (on all but the hottest days). But beyond what the building boasts with its design, it is also what lies within that will bring the visiting public closer to understanding the importance of Thoreau’s stewardship of the land.

And it is to this that two-thirds of the display in the auditorium will be dedicated.

Listening to the major speeches at the opening, both Leo Roy, the Commissioner of the DCR and Don Henley the Founder and Chairman of the Walden Woods Project, alluded to the work and wisdom of Henry David Thoreau. Don spoke of not only studying Thoreau’s work in its written form (and I admit, I haven’t read much of) but of experiencing the environment in which he lived and wrote. He spoke of how the interactive displays at the new center will allow visitors to get a fuller experience of Thoreau’s life at Walden from whence they can step outside to come to know it more fully.

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After I left the gathering, swimming across the middle of Walden, the pastel blue sky smudged with cotton white cloud reminded me of one of Thoreau’s quotes from the opening ceremony. “Heaven under our feet as well as over our head.”

What could be more this than Walden herself?

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In his address, Don Henley asked of the gathering, “Where is your Walden?” He was not only posing this question to the people gathered in front of him, but also posing it as a question that the interactive displays might ask of the thousands of school children that will see it in the years to come, as a means to stimulate their minds to think of the special place(s) in their lives.

 

As the sun warmed my skin on Tuesday afternoon, as the lazy silence of the water and the woods nurtured me, the road between me and the dissipating crowds receded into a distant murmuring and the peace and tranquility of Walden engulfed me, I stood on the beach:

Walden. You are my Walden. Here. Now. You Are.
And I am grateful.
I’m not sure how you Came to be. 
Or rather, How I Came to Be.
But I Am.
And I Am Glad.

And the sun laid her gentle hands on me
And stroked my skin with her light.

Sounds of Walden

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Water ripples across stones

Dead leaves skittle across hillsides

Silence

The squelch of pine needles under sneakers

A far off siren

Whistling train

Voices. Mothers with children walking in the woods

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Sun warming tight covered skin. Soothing winter away

Planes. Unseen but heard

The air thick with spirit. I know

my Jesi is here.

In Search of Solitude at Walden

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Now the water is back I find myself drawn to Walden. Every day I want to be there. Mostly to wander aimlessly through the woods and stare at the pond through tree trunks and stick branches that belie Spring is really here. The water, at forty degrees, is still too cold for me to venture in.

There is a sadness though, for every visit I make…on weekend days or late in the afternoon when the big yellow cats are stilled, or earlier in the day hearing their loud drowning voices I avoid them and head into the woods away from where they work… there are more felled trees, more cyclone fences, more changes. On Tuesday I arrived wanting to use the bathroom. For as many years as I remember, Walden’s bathroom block (not much more than that), has boasted a Clivus Composting system. The small wooden shack which housed it had been closed and the replacement port-a-johns were still being unloaded off a truck and wedged into a far corner of one of the two parking lots which remain accessible. A temporary measure, the young DCR worker assured me, adding he hoped the upheaval would not deter from my love of the place.
His manner was kind and sincere. Transition, change. It is Spring after all.

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These, I know, are the beginnings of a season of changes at Walden. A septic system, the construction of a new visitors center to replace the tiny ranger quarters which currently lends space to the Thoreau Society’s shop and a small gallery where various exhibits relating to the historical significance of Walden can be viewed. Thousands of visitors come to Walden each year primarily for this reason.

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But for me, I find peace and solitude sitting on a fallen tree on the hill overlooking the pond and the distant beach house. Walking briskly away from the signs of change I pass the site of Thoreau’s cottage in the woods, stopping breathless and in awe of the loud ringing of frogs in the marshy area known as Wymans Meadow. Frogs and insects reminding me that winter has truly gone for another year. Birds chirping are a backdrop as I head further into the woods.

It is magic sitting perched up on the hill reading, overlooking all of what drew Thoreau to this place, understanding so little of it, except it draws me too.

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When the summer truly comes and picnickers throng to the beach and I hunger again for solitude, I will retreat even further into Walden, into the middle of the pond and the deep water that awakens my soul and all the memories Walden holds.

Respite

Bringing up a seventeen year old
who has lost half her self
and now spends her birthday alone
for the first time

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Considering herself almost adult
but still a child

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How do I manage the needs
of adult
of child
of loss and grief?

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Sometimes I crave the guidance
her angel sister twin might provide
Not the daughter sister
but the angel
who was herself a child
An adult
too early

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Bearing the torment of disease
Too far before her time should be

How can I do this?
This mothering
This negotiating
with my adult child

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How can I think what is right?
To nourish to support her
in her loss

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How can I even think?
When the grief of a mother
bearing children
two on one day
and only now one present to grieve

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How can I?

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But by coming to Walden
and walking
silent in the snowy air
to find the place my other child adult angel has gone into

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To let the soft flakes of nothingness
drift onto my face
and in my hair

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Wondering About Trevor

I am not sure what makes me deviate from the path that skirts the pond. Perhaps it is merely that there is a track of flattened snow, now ice, that leads up hill from the cove.
So I climb, deciding to visit the site of Thoreau’s cottage, wondering if anyone has built a snow man or snow cave yet.
I do not expect to see a single white rose propped up against a bank of snow.

Earlier in my walk I have been thinking about Jesi. That in itself is not surprising. I always think about her in some part of my mind. I think about the day, not three months ago, when I bought a small picture of her to the pond and etched We Love You Jesi in the sand (see Christmas day post). Perhaps I think about it today, less than three months later, because there is no sand. Only snow.
Time… Change… Transience.

Life, This
And the Next…

I think about Soul. Understanding the soul’s journey is become an obsession with me since Jesi left us for her Next… Great… Journey…

So when I come across the single long stem white rose nestled in the snow and read the inscription on the wooden heart tied around the stem

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I stop in my tracks and stare.

I wonder about Trevor, about the people that loved him.
I wonder what tore him away from them.
What Walden meant to him.
And to them.

I wonder whether Trevor and Jesi have met up there.
Beyond my comprehension in that never-ending blue.
I wonder if Trevor has found happiness as I believe Jesi has.
I wonder whether Trevor’s friends know what I know
about where Trevor is now.

I wonder if it would console them as it has consoled me.

I wonder a lot of things as I continue to walk around the pond.
Never meeting a soul.
Yet knowing there are a zillion souls out there watching me
As I walk
And wonder.

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Lost in Walden

I stood blown back to shore and even before I had suited up, lost in grief

My sister and niece who accompanied me yesterday have gone…..they are only half a world away…..still in flight to the great land in the southern hemisphere….
and I am alone…..
I wonder if they feel her up there, closer to the clouds, the sun which lights the only path I have to her now…

I am talking of Jesi….who will be forever 16 in my mind…..etched in the grief of loss as if I am watching life slip away from my child again and again…
Love and loss

By the time I am half way down the flank of Walden the wind is making battle with the waves, and the waves with me….and I am crying out to her, Jesi, the wind…..How will i ever get over losing you?
I am engulfed in tears in Walden, swallowing them and the swell as it swallows me
…Then I am sorry…Sorry I am not strong, not seeing light, not feeling her here with me today

She watched over us, her family, even as we were watching over her, lost in leukemia that ultimately grew her and found her strength before it made her body so weak, so broken, we had to let her go

I swim on…..fevered by my tears….and think of her in the heavens…
She is sun and she is light, shining down. The gentle beams of translucent white merging with my tears… reminding me she is free

Mandy (white cap) and Kadi (blue goggles) with me after our swim

Mandy (white cap) and Kadi (blue goggles) with me after our swim