Last night the helicopters swept over my house unexpectedly. Spot lights shining down, so the gossip levels, suspicion and curiosity rise up inside the town. 10.30 he was recovered from the lake, reported firstly as 18, but it was 16 now it seems. He was reaching in for something, like so many fisherman, but he slipped and struggled, never coming up. And I wonder if I’d passed him, like so many, and said hello. Mostly they were rude to me, mentally suspended in their activities, and me in mine. And I was rude to them.
I skated into their memorial. Earphones out I heard their weak, whispered conversations. Their sniffles and their sobs. The dusted keepsakes of their friend laid out with flowers at the edge of the water where he last stood. Maybe where they met. A pumped up football and a signed cricket bat they lay to rest where he could not be. They pulled their hoodies tighter keeping out the cold I could not feel. And I empathised with nothing.I was merely on my way.
The 20 gathered knew something I’d rather not see. But I saw something, felt it later like the snake I had just passed, where its power took some time to hit me. I could hear the dry autumn leaves caught in the wind, breaking on the road. Crushed under passing cars. And I was suddenly alone. And I rememberers all the deaths, all the fears that I had seen. They came crawling back from somewhere, bitter in my day dream. I stared into my coffee, in the pages of my book. I was awake and again lacking empathy. A missing person jolted me to try, but I couldn’t feel anything.
I will go to sleep tonight, where he cannot. I will wake, where others can’t. 16 and dead, I see the things that he will not. But I too will sleep through most of it, won’t I? He won’t move or make a sound. He’ll be remembered in the flower petals blown off one by one and drowned, and I’ll be on my way.
When somebody dies, or something unusual happens, I think looking for some meaning in it is natural. A Christian seeks meaning directly in prayer, but I don't have that. I saw an odd symbol though I could take something from, where yesterday I skated by a snake crossing a path and didn't have time to stop. So we shared the path, and I was thankful the snake ignored me. I warned some people to be cautious, but in my head I considered the possibility of somebody being bitten and whether or not I should have called animal control with so many people around the lake that day. Today I then skated as I always do by the lake, and I was more conscious than normal in case I saw a snake again. But I got to the bridge and saw flowers and people gathered instead. At a distance they looked like busy tourists, but I soon realised they were mourning, in an improptu memorial. I got off my skateboard, and considered briefly turning around to avoid the scene, but I walked through.
There isn't anything to take away from this story. It's just a series of unusual events. But I can see that making meaning, or seeking it is natural.