When the tide turns

English: Negative low tide at Ocean Beach in S...

My cousin said it is like a labour to be got through. The day before I called home and heard her voice on the telephone and gave a message through my cousin, and they said she knew it was me. Then I walked around and around the compound in the night, almost surprised at the cool dry wind, the traffic sound, the stars in the sky. My aunt the nurse had said you have to let them go and I tried. Watched a video my cousin had recorded of her saying good bye. Then I couldn’t sleep but some time in the night I felt a sudden peace from my inside out.

On the walk I came to the imagery in this passage my mother read to me when I was young from L. M. Montgomery’s novel Emily’s Quest:

Mr. Carpenter closed his eyes and relapsed into silence. Emily sat quietly … Far off, two beautiful, slender, black firs, of exactly the same height, came out against the silver dawn-lit sky like the twin spires of some Gothic cathedral rising out of a bank of silver mist…Their beauty was a comfort and stimulant to Emily…Whatever passed–whatever came–beauty like this was eternal.

…At three o’clock he grew rather restless. Aunt Louisa came in again.

“He can’t die till the tide goes out, you know,” she explained to Emily in a solemn whisper.

“Get out of this with your superstitious blather,” said Mr. Carpenter loudly and clearly. “I’ll die when I’m d–n well ready, tide or no tide.”

…After another silence Mr. Carpenter began again, this time more to himself, as it seemed, than anyone else.

“Going out–out beyond the dawn. Past the morning star. Used to think I’d be frightened. Not frightened. Funny. Think how much I’m going to know–in just a few more minutes, Emily. Wiser than anybody else living. Always wanted to know–to know. Never liked guesses. Done with curiosity–about life. Just curious now–about death. I’ll know the truth, Emily–just a few more minutes and I’ll know the–truth. No more guessing.

… A moment or two later he opened his eyes and said in a loud, clear voice, “Open the door–open the door. Death must not be kept waiting.”

Emily ran to the little door and set it wide. A strong wind of the grey sea rushed in. Aunt Louisa ran in from the kitchen.

“The tide has turned–he’s going out with it–he’s gone.”

When it was morning there I called and she’d died peacefully half an hour before, so peacefully they weren’t sure she had gone or not. So that’s it. I heard something about the night. My dad touched her forehead for me, and said ‘I’m touching it now, R-’. In the background the house sounded peaceful and active with morning and breakfast, and a neighbour had come over to borrow a hammer. I spoke to my sister on Skype, and later, went downtown to meet my young man, and do a class.

Today, language school, grocery shopping, overcast, and a weariness.


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