Something interesting happened yesterday while I was meditating.
Last summer, I spent almost two months in the U.S., visiting friends and family and attending a writers’ retreat. When it was time to return, I headed north with a very heavy heart.
There’s an exquisite image in the opening chapter of the novel Touch by Alexi Zentner. (This is a spoiler, but it happens in the first chapter, so it doesn’t spoil much. And this entire entry won’t make sense without the spoiler.)
The hands were not touching. Even through the plate of frozen water covering them, we saw clearly that little more than the width of an ax blade separated my father’s two hands from my sister’s one. His mangled fingers on one hand, the smooth alabaster fingers on the other hand, all stretched toward Marie’s small hand. The ice, like glass above their hands, thickened as we tried to look further out, to see the rest of their bodies and their faces. The lines blurred, only shadows, dark shapes.
The image has haunted me. It became a symbol of how I felt about Canada. If I remained in Canada another winter, I thought, I would end up as they did — frozen forever in the failed task of touching, of making contact with another human being.