Saturday, July 08, 2006

June 28

Wed. June 28, 2006

This morning I woke up with Sy and walked her to her work. I don’t think I had ever walked with her to work before, because she is usually running late and I have to drive her in to get her to work on time. I walked with my head down most of the way, sinking more into my depression, still thinking about the day before at Katie’s Spot. Sy tried to cheer me up with kisses on the cheek and hand holding, which worked, but only fleetingly. As soon as her lips left my face, the murkiness, temporarily displaced, returned.

After I had dropped my dear wife off, I planned to return home, but found myself walking over the swinging bridge leading to Glen Park. The bridge was still wet with the morning's condensation. The remnants of a few foot prints and bicycle tire tracks were traced in the water on the bridge. I walked about halfway out over the river before I felt the old familiar bounce of the bridge. I stopped and leaned over the railing at the rushing water below, thinking all the while that this, right here, was where Katie had tried to kill herself before, where she dangled precariously until she chickened out or got interrupted or just thought better of it.

With a deep sigh, I dragged myself from the bridge and down to the lower falls, where I traversed the narrow path by the river as fast as I could. Once past that, I began jogging. I figured I would jog until I was out of the woods and into the clearing. I had hoped that the exercise in the woods would take my mind off of her, however briefly, but it didn’t…I just recalled how she would go jogging in Glen Park every day and how she could scamper up a tree like a squirrel, with so little effort.

Through all these memories, I kept running, maybe hoping to put them behind me in some subconscious way. Just as I was beginning to run out of steam, I came out of the woods into the clearing by the river. I came to a stop with one last solid footfall, and with that, the heron burst into the sky from the river bank where he was standing. All tiredness I had felt left my body for those moments as it lifted into the sky and away replaced with awe for its grandeur and remorse for having disturbed the beautiful bird with my loutishness.

Once the heron was out of view, I walked over to the bench next to the river, removing my sweatshirt on the way. Upon arriving there, I realized I had had it in my mind to sit here all along, but I’d not really consciously thought about it. After scanning the bench, I determined that the only thing filthy on the bench was what had been primitively etched into it by stoned teenagers, and it would be fine to sit there for a while.

I sat down on the bench, then removed my shoes, pulled my legs up and sat half lotus style. I sat there for a few moments, thinking about how unkind I had been to Katie. There are so few people in this world I feel a real connection with…beyond my wife and Katie, I’d have trouble naming any. And yet I regarded her so casually, dismissing, almost belittling, her frequent suicide attempts. Had my wife tried anything like that even once I would have forcefully intervened. But with Katie, I did the least that I could do.

I continued to sit in a meditative posture, watching the water flow around the rocks in the river. The water was so beautiful; it seemed to embrace the rocks as it slipped by. Tears began to well up in my eyes, and I removed my glasses, setting them next to me on the bench. “I’m sorry, Katie” I gushed under my now heaving breath, quietly as I could because even all alone in the middle of the woods I’m still self-conscious. “I’m so sorry.” I started to reach for the Kleenex that I had been carrying around with me ever since her memorial service, and then stopped.

“I know,” I heard her say in my head.

I didn’t, of course, hear her per se, as this was all taking place within my skull, and her voice, for lack of a better word, didn’t sound like Katie really. It seemed deeper than hers, and it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. They had a resonance was so slight I could only perceive it because I was sitting so still in such a peaceful place. It was almost like a voice that you experience when you are imagining a conversation with someone, but this voice had feeling to it, more three- than two-dimensional. I felt it in my whole body.

I was about to tell her that I wished more than anything that I had done more to help her, but she cut me off, reassuringly saying, “You’re a good person.”

My tears kept flowing, but now they felt more like ones of relief and gratitude than of sorrow. Those six words lifted the weight of the world off of me…Katie forgave me. Or maybe it’s seven…I don’t know if contractions count as two words or one.

I sat there is silence for a while, too emotional to do anything else. “Thank you,” I finally managed to get out, “Thank you Katie.” There was no response. I sat for a time, waiting, hoping, for more communication, but I heard no more.

I had sat in Katie’s spot for over an hour and a half yesterday, pouring my heart out and longing desperately for some sort of answer, but got nothing. I was despondent. I was inconsolable. Now I could breathe again.

Now, I am skeptical, even full of doubt, and as I got up from the bench and started walking home, I tried to deconstruct this event in my mind. I tried to reproduce the voice in my head I had experienced. I tried to find a way to explain it away. But so ethereally keen was the experience that the closest I could come to a dismissal was that Katie, to me, and not a few others, seemed a kindred spirit. We had so much in common from our world views to our passions to our senses of humor. In fact, the more I find out about her, the more I’m sure we were destined to be two peas in a pod…but I guess that destiny only accounts for so much in this life. But maybe through this kinship of this kindred spirit, I know, deep down, that Katie would forgive me.

Although I cannot really know what it was I experienced by the river today, now I am more sure than ever that there is Something Going On.


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