This is a response to a writing prompt given during a Write to Heal circle at Healing Circles Langley


It is part of grief to remember.


Memory transports me back in time to the Thames near Windsor. Chubby motor boat putt-puttering through water-filled lock; the sun-reddened faces of people drugged by the heat as they stroll along the banks of this most ancient river on an August afternoon; the quiet drone of an aeroplane overhead. I again breathe in the green smell of river fish and decomposing weeds, sense the cool, dark undertow of water-molded stones. I hear snatches of conversation as I overtake a couple sharing hand-holding dreams and whispered, secret planning. The sound of a bike bell, sudden, close behind, startles me in its immediacy, its hurry. Obediently, I scurry to one side, afraid the youngster in his haste will pedal right over me. And confounding us all, the reflected sky makes the water a visual conundrum, a topsy-turvy re-ordering of the familiar, blue sky below as well as above.

I miss those somnambulant (for so they now seem to me) river walks, the quiet current of life at a sure-footed stroll: familiar, contained, gently predictable. Memory momentarily deceives me into thinking I can, indeed, go back to that gentler time and place, even as I know life has closed that door to me forever. The surgeon looks to me as though she’s still in high school. She tells us my grandson’s surgery was successful, the neuroblastoma removed “almost one hundred percent.”The prognosis, we are told, is good. “It’s rare for this form of cancer to recur in a child under five,” she says with the confidence of the young. But for me, nothing will ever be so sure or comfortable again. An earthquake could not have shaken the foundation of our lives more thoroughly than this.

The people disappear, the river bank fades, I’m in deeper water now, struggling to stay upright. And I’m wondering, which way is the shore?


Header photo by Henry under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0