photo: Meg Barclay

The lake where you died still frightens me

The lake where you died still frightens me. Though years have passed, the tentacles of your desperation reach out from the depths, grasping for life, threatening to pull me in.

I imagine what it was like to be alone, in water, hemmed by ice, as the blizzard tore and scattered your cries for help, your will to live imprinting air, water, distorting space.

It was a miracle you lived as long as you did. That’s what friend after friend said at the party the night you died, the solstice party that turned into your impromptu wake. And you would have loved it, because you always loved the solstice and a good story.

One by one, they told their tales of “How I Almost Died with Mark,” enshrining you in our tribal memory as the piper who lured us from our reasonable, responsible existences to experience life hanging by our fingertips. And that is who you were. You were neither reasonable nor responsible. But you were fully alive.

The day you died, I huddled snug inside as snow drove sideways past the glass, grateful I had nowhere to go. You went ice boating.

It must have been exhilarating, riding the storm, flying through a biting, horizon-less world of white, runners hissing, chattering, carving long arcs in the frozen surface. And then … open water. You crossed the point of no return, propelled by nature, propelled by choice.

Did you see it coming? Try to change course? Or were you surprised when the world gave way beneath you?

So I drive the lake’s margin, breath held, willing my car to track the pavement, to resist the pull of your death, that I may live my reasonable, responsible life.

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