There is something at the beginning of the longest walk. There is something that is inevitable, unavoidable, and utterly without room for change – a square block in a square corner.
It cannot be mistaken. It cannot be hidden – not with any lasting honesty. Just as her cells are now being overrun, just as Summer will chase after Spring when she has been gone many months, this thing will come.
We know how this will end, and so for now we breathe, and one of us pretends that she has forever.
But we know; we can’t not know. We know that one of us will walk away after this long road is done, and we know that one will read the last word on last page with the gentlest of sighs, with a whisper of prayer sibilant on her lips.
So we walk. And we drive. It would be unthinkable to sit idle when there is a beckoning, unknowable adventure at hand. We set out daily to find things unfound, to revel in the ever changing light one more time, perhaps even to explore things from earlier days that we might have left to molder in dusty, webbed attics but choose not to.
We tell ourselves that it is a choice, but we know that that is a lie. These deliberate, courage-laden steps that we take are required of us. Fate, or the gods, perhaps conscience or possibly God will allow no other.
Deeply drawn breaths: these are required and miraculously, they appear in these steps – steps that are feared and then welcomed, for they turn to mirrors and they become the gentlest of streams, sparkling, inviting us to follow.
So we walk. We drive. We sit in the sun and we feel the Okanagan wind tussling with our Fall clothes.
To not do so would be to ignore, to rob of all value the most magnificent part of our days. Every sunrise has led to this. Every loss, every joy, every incandescent rage, and every touch; they end on this road. Whether our days seemed many and extraordinary or few and pitifully mean, each one has led us to this path that lives and then dies in the kaleidoscope of our valley.
Some of our steps we would rather not take, branches of the paths where we cry, No! and would veer away, leaving them unexplored. Some are shadows that flicker lightly by, as if they will never stop here. Some are ideas hidden, and some are specters best left buried. But undeterred, we unearth them as we walk, as if pulled along by the stream, or by a river – a torrent – or along a shore, beckoned by a gently breathing tide quietly at peace with itself.
And as we walk, we know. We know that one of us will disappear into the quiet, and that one of us will still breathe. There is glory in this walk. There is humility. This is our beginning and this is our end.
And one of us pretends that she has forever.