i have a story to tell.
at the river the other day we had a glimpse of the sublime.
something so frightening it shifts faultlines of the soul;
to come face to face with death is also to come face to face with life.
some of darin's strange photographs of that day capture the mysterious vast power of nature, life and death.
reminding me of the relentless haunting of Picnic at Hanging Rock, or Twin Peaks...
a strange and unknowable force hovering through the rocks and water.
hanging on the branches and riding the currents.
so invincible and bewildering that we feel the need to protect our children from it, to hide away from it in the dark. to never be lost in it. to never let it find us.
but truth be told, the day was beautiful. the children were fine and free, the water felt perfect, it was clear and green and flowing strong but swimworthy.
siri followed rebecca through the water, her happy-go-lucky little buddy while sylvan (zack and rebec's 6 year old son) stayed by me close to the shore. that's where we were when siri's stick started floating toward the edge of the waterfall going over the rocks; not all that high but with a killing smashing current. and siri started following it. confusion ensued. people were screaming for her to try to get her to swim against the current. she would turn one way, then the other, while the current took her toward the crashing falls.
my brother mikie, who had foolishly thrown the stick, rushed over to straddle the falls in hopes of catching her before she went over. sylvan began shrieking "NO!!! NO!!!! NO!!!!" and i grabbed him up and held him close while he wept and pleaded. I held him tight and said, "everything is going to be okay, she's okay sylvan," while my own heart sank as i watched his dog go, sucked over the edge.
it was a flash. amber, mikie's girlfriend, was in the water swimming toward the other side and told later how she saw the collar fly into the air. next thing i knew, mikie was gone from above. darin says that mikie simply disappeared. my brother, trained river guide, strongest swimmer of us all, had been plunged down into the crevice off the side of the falls and was being pummeled under violent tumults bearing down with all the force of the stone mountains.
next thing i saw was darin hurl himself downward. zack says i wouldn't believe the heroic lunge darin made. apparently darin yelled "WHERE's MIKIE" as they searched the frothing whiteness for a sign. darin anchored himself on the rocks and plunged his arm down in. far below the in the churning, he felt mikie's fingers. mikie was being trapped directly underneath the powerful plunging current. he could not move upwards or sideways. what i saw from my spot upriver was zack going down and grabbing darin's feet. that's when i knew something was terribly wrong and my heart wildly lurched. but lucky for mikie, that's when they were able to haul him up and out of the water.
my dad was with us too. he had hurried downriver to see if he could help catch the dog. the first indication he had that his son might have drowned was darin pulling mikie's head up and yelling "BREATHE!" and then the guys with amber pulling too, hefting him out of the water and up over the rocks. i can't imagine the tumult in my sweet pops soul at that moment.
in fact, as soon as mikie sat down on the rock, she barked (only time she barked all day) and went to him. she stayed like that, with her head in his lap, grateful and quiet, for a long long time.
we all talked about it for hours. our hearts finally slowed back down and we stopped shaking. we swam a little more and made peace with the water. siri, after a couple hours, swam across following rebecca's lead. we had met with death in the boundarylands of our disquiet world, and we were awed.
all back together again. all you can feel is the purest love for those around you, your friends and family who swim with you, laugh with you, hold you. suddenly it feels like there are no veils between us, no borders of the universe, all possibilities open. all hearts open. i was grateful for a staggering knowledge of love.
and i can't help but be a little proud of my hero husband and my strong brother and this vibrant group of my beloveds who stared at the glowing heart of the universe on a blue summer day.