The air was crisp and the sky was bright with life. The day was innocent, and back then, we were innocent. Emily and I were only 12 and we were the kind of best friends who created memories by exploring. But out of all the memories pressed between the pages of my mind, it is this journey that gleams brightly. It is this journey that every detail remains carefully painted, as clear as glass. And it is this journey that taught me to believe that there is beauty in everything. For me, that beauty is life.
On this particular evening, we were taking in the pleasant aroma and feel of our last night at camp Matollionequay – a place where our dreams were eternal. Not anticipating our departure, Emily and I planned a secret escape that would trap camp and its wonders into our hearts forever. Little did we know that it would be one of the last memories we would share together.
That night, when the humming of breaths became rhythmic and the crickets sped up their lullabies, we tiptoed out of our bunks. We silently strode down the sand paths, the scenery becoming progressively more formidable. There was nothing to hurry for, but we could not stop ourselves from rushing to see our awaited destination. As the path ended, we finally laid our eyes upon the lake. It was something out of a book, or a movie. The water was cool and still in accordance to the night, with only the full, pearly moon reflecting in its magnitude. The greatness was never-ending, stretching across the earth. Emily and I spoke words of nothing as we pranced faster towards the bank where our quest would unfold. Our hearts beat like runaway trains as we scrambled from the copse to dip our sandy, brown-edged toes in the refreshing water. The muck was miraculous; hard enough so that we were able to move freely, but mushy enough to feel like we were on fields of gooey marshmallows. We waddled deeper into the water, soaking our scabby, camp-battered knees. The once serene lake soon became vivacious as we plunged into its core and became soaked with liveliness. We faced the future and looked to the scattered mass of dancing stars surrounding us. In that moment, we were everything; a plethora of nothing.
That year, Emily passed away. It was a sudden signal of change, which to my dismay, came like a rocket speeding through the atmosphere.
When I returned the next summer, I was bombarded with comprehensions. The muck was not phenomenal, merely dirt and algae. The stars were not once dancing, but were restless with the oncoming arrival of an angel. And the lake in fact did not go on forever, for the end was all too clearly defined. However, it was more beautiful than before because I knew that she was there, for that was where she belonged. I believe in the beauty this world offers: life.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.