I’m writing as I sit overlooking the river. It is beautiful. Breathtaking. It is deceiving, the river, how serene it looks on the surface when just below the current is so strong. I am in the low filtered light of a fall afternoon, the leaves changing, ever so subtly, marking the death of summer.
I have this sense of isolation. As people pass by I think I know something you do not. Something secret. I know what death feels like, both to die silently while still living and to leave my body in physical death; an observer for a few minutes before being allowed to rejoin.
I attended my high school reunion specifically to meet up again with a school mate who piloted a 777 cargo jet as it lost three engines and crashed a year or so ago. When I read his story, saw the pictures of little left but bits and pieces, I recognized the miracle of his survival, and that of his entire crew. I finally felt like there was someone who could understand. Feeling, finally, that I am not alone in this suspended life of before, and after. In him I find someone who also feels the weight of the gift.
Here we are, he and I, thankful to be alive, desperately trying to reconcile why we are here, what our purpose is; what we are to do with this blessing of a second chance at life. It is an odd place. A paradox of burying the pieces while reliving the event over and over, churning up and under, converse water flows. The swift current pulling downward, under this placid surface. Entangled out of sight.
He appears happy and cheerful, as I remember him, as I am. But I know he must have dark hours, too. The video playing, the questions circling around, with no answers clear enough to make sense. Both of us on our own separate journey in a parallel exploration of why. Why me. Holding this bewildering gift; so precious, so precarious, so fragile. Refusing to surrender. Struggling to use it. Searching.
“Every day each one of us has to reinvent ourselves. We have a chance to create a new ending. It is the most difficult work.” Lisette Johnson