by J.E. Martin
A woman's reconnection with painful, yet beautiful memories.
She hadn’t been to the river in a long time. Her vivid memories were of a gentle, meandering water with large fir and aspen trees trembling in the gentle breeze. The groundcover and grasses would be yellowing in the summer sun, but she remembered that there was always a fresh, crisp feeling in the air even in the hottest part of summer. They would sometimes dangle a fishing line into the deep cool pools and for their labours were often rewarded with small trout. They never kept the trout, but would gently remove the hook and smoothly return them to this living river. This was the way her memory had captured and held it. |
But, this was the first time she had come to the river in the late spring and the first time she had come on her own. The river was swollen with snowmelt and the meandering stream was a mighty torrent. As the water crashed and roared around the boulders the sound was deafening. The aspen leaves were atremble in their tiny newness and the gentle green of the new growth on the fir trees soft in its infancy. The sunlight was diffused through this burgeoning canopy but the silver of the leaves was magical to behold.
She found the noise to be strangely comforting; the noise was so vast and so encompassing that her thoughts were, at first, difficult to form. She kindled a fire using last winter’s deadfall and stood gazing into the red blaze. The dichotomy of the fire with the roaring river as a backdrop was mesmerizing and she found her thoughts fleeing to those yesterdays when she would visit this river with her husband and her children. She noted that the wildflowers were in bloom and the green berries of the huckleberry bush just starting to colour. The grass was new and still green, the dry summer winds had yet to arrive. This was truly an enchanted spot and she wondered why they had never come at this time of the year.
But the insistence of her thoughts became as deafening as the river. What she had thought to flee was now close, too close. As her thoughts crashed into her mind the roar of the river was the perfect accompaniment. She stood very still and allowed her thoughts to mingle with the roar of the river. They became one and the same and the door she had slammed shut all those months ago opened. She put her head up to look through the canopy of leaves and the tears that hadn’t come then, came now. She cried as if her heart would break and the pain in her chest and throat blossomed until she thought she would perish. She didn’t know how long she cried, she only knew that the fire had burned down and twilight had arrived. She was spent, exhausted beyond reasoning but she felt a measure of comfort for the first time.
Perhaps she would survive. Perhaps there was something worth living for in this world. She took a deep breath of the cool mountain air. She said goodbye, for the first time, to her husband and her children, so tragically killed by a drunk driver over a year ago. If their spirits existed anywhere she knew they would have come to the river. She had known she would come to find them, but had been afraid of her findings. She hasn’t met with their spirits but she had found the beginnings of a peace of mind and the measure of tranquility she needed to continue with her life. It may not be what she had come looking for but she was thankful she had found it.
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