Like dancing spiders, streams of water course vagrantly along my arms and chest until they converge, cascading and disappearing into the drain.

Something about water provokes in me a feeling of great uneasiness: it is the way it changes form with such ease and takes flight until it finds any sloped spoor to disappear into infinity.
 
While I was showering that morning something truly inexplicable disquieted me; with the phone ringing in the background, this inexplicable feeling goaded my thoughts to the most terrifying moment in my life. On that day I accompanied my grandfather on a day trip to his logging camp. The logging camp was situated in Sturgeon Bay on Harrison Lake in Southwest British Columbia . It was the season for placing logs into expansive series of checkered patterns on the water, called booms, facilitating their transport by water on their way into domestic and international markets.

With an elongated pike, I was helping my grandfather arrange the logs into these vertical and horizontal squares when I slipped on the smooth, naked surface of a partially debarked log, lost my balance and fell into the cold glacial water. I panicked as the water began to enter my lungs…
 
When the telephone stopped ringing, the bathroom was silent. I turned off the tap and got out of the shower. While I was drying myself my roommate called out to me, “Your uncle is on the phone!” With a mysterious apprehension, I quickly ran out of the bathroom to pick up the receiver and greet him. My uncle told me that my father had been involved in a fishing accident that morning and that his body had yet to be recovered from the thick spring sediment on the bottom of the lake.
 
In most religions water is a medium of transition between the now and the beyond. In Christianity baptism is a ritual of purification through which humanity passes from a state of uncleanness into a state of eternal purity. According to the creation stories in many other faiths the infant material world emerged from water. Like a baby who resists entering the dry world, every transition from one state to another is sublime and full of loss. However, does not water promise a better state of existence? At first I resisted the transition of my father but then I remembered a moment long ago as a child when he explained to me his preferred way of dying…
 
The water on the lake was calm as we sat in the boat waiting for the fish to bite. A loon had just emerged from the water with her young trailing not far behind in ordered procession. My father told me, “If I could chose my manner of death I would drown in a beautiful lake like this one.” The spring sun was radiant; the air scented with the odor of new birth; and the wind gently blew ripples on the water’s surface.
 
In fact this was the exact manner in which he died.

                                                                  ~~

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Published in: on September 26, 2006 at 2:33 am  Comments Off on