Return to the River

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This weekend, words eluded me. Often needing to marinate in my thoughts, I had consciously avoided contemplating the act of returning Mom to the St. Lawrence River on last time, fearing it would make her loss feel too final. Yet, amid the moments of solitude and family warmth on the Islands, I found the very act I’d been dreading unexpectedly brought relief.

I reflected on my feelings about the Islands in a way I had never before, and gained an understanding of their beauty and profound impact on our family.

If ever a place could be dubbed “Mom’s,” it was the Islands, and I think I can relate to the feeling.

Some landscapes magnetize us. Their pull operates on a level that bypasses reason or understanding. It’s a kind of spiritual geography where the resonance between person and place goes beyond the superficial metrics—beyond the number of days spent there or social media check-ins. For our family, the River is not just a destination but an extension of our collective soul.

This connection isn’t just about the frequency of visits; it’s an ache at the cellular level. The air here is different—more than just breathable. It infuses a sense of peace and belonging into the very core of our being. It’s as if the River permits us, no urges us, to shed the daily weight we carry on our shoulders.

In this space, that feels like home, we can be our most authentic selves. There are no judgments here; the granite shores do not care about your career choices, and the River is indifferent to your social status.

In this way, the River has become a sanctuary, and a refuge from the chaos of modern life. I often find myself saying we “vacation in the Islands” but a visit to the River is not about escape or a simple excursion, but rather an essential element of existence, the way oxygen and water are.

I need to be here, not just to decompress or unwind, but to reconnect with something primal, something authentic that’s easy to lose sight of in the daily grind.

It’s a place that beckons us to step out of the rapid currents of life, if only to stand on the shore for a few moments to remember who we are and where we come from. To inhale deeply and fill our lungs not just with air, and dip our toes into the river to find a sense of peace and balance that will sustain us through life’s complexities. It’s a peace that’s not just the absence of conflict but the presence of something profound—something divine.

Reflecting on the depths of my own bond with the Islands, and this undeniable pull that the River has on our family. I found comfort in this part of Mom’s journey. The Islands, and the River were never just places for her; they were a part of her very essence.

Mom is now inseparable from the Islands and the River she so deeply loved—a part of the wind that whispers through the trees, a part of the water that laps against the shore, a part of the serene beauty that had always brought her peace. She is everywhere, woven into the Islands fabric like a thread.

Amidst the river and islands that feel like extensions of our hearts, we said our earthly goodbyes. Yet, as we left, I felt no emptiness—only the assurance that Mom was finally where she belonged.

She is at home with her mother and other family members.

She is at peace.

And she will always be waiting for us at the River.

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