Notes from the small pond: Sitting ...
December 15, 2023
One of the things people say in the receiving line at funerals is "If there is anything we can do, please let us know ...."
So, we did. We let you know. And we will continue to do so. Drowning people are rarely too shy to ask for help.
And everyone has been amazing. The prayers - we feel them. The food - we've eaten it. The flowers - we've smelled them and done our damnedest to keep them alive. The nervous awkward smiles at the grocery store - no one knows what to say and how could they? We appreciate those smiles, the effort we know they take.
One very tangible and lasting manifestation of this goodwill has been the memorial bench and plaque, which has now been installed along the northern bank of the St. Louis River walkway, just east of the old railroad bridge.
It is awfully beautiful.
It is beautiful. And awful.
To you, out there, who helped make this installation possible, a lifetime of Thank Yous won't fully express our gratitude.
We pray you'll make the opportunity to walk the path and sit for a while on Evan's bench. Watch the water flow. Or stare at the ice. Listen to the birds and the hum of the pollinators. Watch the sunrise and hear the trains ... in the summer, at dusk, sit and watch the bats flutter over the surface of the river like nocturnal dragonflies, scouring the air of mosquitoes. Close your eyes in the dark as you sit there and hear the drum of their leathery wings ....
With this installation, you've helped us provide a portal into the zillions of lives that have passed forward before us, remain now among us and will blossom so beautifully after us, along this hickory-colored river - from living creatures never seen by humans, to humans thinking such thoughts as these and all the present inhabitants of this turning, still-blue globe.
Evan is watching, observing, mildly embarrassed, but thankful and loving. Glad and surprised that people gave a damn, after all.
When you sit on Evan's bench and feel the air around you, be it the welcome gentle breezes of spring, the moveless, heavy air of late summer or the ice-bitten winds of darkest winter ... just know that, beneath the depth of your immediate perception, your senses are also tracking things unsensible, and that Evan is near.
Cloquet's Parnell Thill is an award-winning columnist and author. This year, his son died at age 28. Email Parnell at news@pine knotnews.com or just find him out and about in Cloquet.