The cerulean blues of the sky have already given way to warmer tones of yellow, pink and red. The colors are continuously reflected and refracted by the restless surface of Lake Superior. The sight is certainly familiar, but I find myself taken aback by its sheer magnitude. The horizon stretches on far beyond my peripheral vision; the line where water meets sky alternates between clearly visible and virtually indistinguishable. This perfect example of natural splendor and wonder which once engendered great feelings of comfort, security and contentment now only triggers painful memories of loss.
The scent of pine is carried by the lake breeze and finds its way to me as I stand at the edge of the shore. I breathe it in and feel the sting of cold water as waves crash at my feet. Nothing can be heard above the roar of water and stone as they struggle over boundaries. The white noise allows my thoughts to wander, and I remember an entirely different setting than this.
The lighting is dim and unnatural, the smell antiseptic, and the only sound is the subdued din of the monitoring devices in the corner of the room. My grandfather, my idol, lies dying in a hospital bed. None of this is right at all. This is a strong, proud man. When I was little, I used to ride on his shoulders. As I grew older, we used to walk for miles. We hunted, fished, planted, built, and worked side by side. We had witnessed dozens of sunsets at Lake Superior. And now, like the setting sun, my hero is fading from view. This is all wrong. This man lived for the outdoors—for the warm kiss of sunlight and the sweet fragrance of summer breezes. But now, hidden away from the outside world, he takes his final breaths of sterile oxygen and silently passes away, never again to know the light of day.
The wind picks up and my thoughts return to the beach. I can taste the salt of tears on my lips, and their tracks down my face feel cool in the breeze. My eyes remain focused on the setting sun. It’s getting darker now, and the light that seemed to fill the sky a moment ago has faded into a waning red orb that can only hope to hint at its former magnificence. The last of the sun dips below the horizon and darkness begins to set in. I’m left only with the image of the sunset in my mind. I hope my memory can do it justice.
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