What had begun as a crystal clear early morning with stars twinkling in the still dark sky, and as red and white bow lights flashed on the other rowing shells moved silently on the dark surface of the water, the morning dissolved into a thick and impenetrable fog.
And what had begun so idealistically, romantically, on that wedding day a half-century ago, the mutual “to have and to hold until death do us part” was a promise made without much thought as to the possibility.
But like a drifting, incrementally enveloping, all-obscuring fog, that day arrived.
And when they took her away in an is-this-really-happening moment, the silence in the room was near suffocating until finally I said to the assembled family, “I feel so lost.”
Similar then was the quiet response our grown children offered in our living room, as what we whispered – as if even the fog required subdued voices – to one another in the boat that day when lost in the fog.
Not only had all our landmarks disappeared, so too had the other shells.
In our double rowing craft, we were now alone and on our own.
Ever present was the fear of collision.
Stroke by tentative, gentle stroke we made our way along. Row half-slide, let it run, pause and listen. Peer long over our shoulder into the grey gloom as if by our gaze to penetrate the curtain, to see anything familiar from having passed this way before.
Finally, the tree-lined shore loomed ahead, then a dock – not our dock but maybe the one after that – then a house, and then, blessedly, home, the place where we’d begun.
By the time we stowed the oars and placed our shell on the rack, the fog lifted and gave way to a grey dawn.
It was then that the invisible became visible.
Like countless jewels on a necklace strand, fog created droplets of moisture lay pearled on a spider’s web.
While we had labored, stroke by stroke through the fog to find our way home, an artist had been at work adding to the strand, pearl by pearl.
When lost, “go gently.”
“Your grandchildren still need you.”