You can’t drown in frozen water. The only way to do that would be to hack at the ice and submerge yourself. But that’s very difficult and rather time consuming, it’s much easier to sit still and let the numbness take over. If you sat still long enough you’d get so numb that wouldn’t even know you’d frozen to death.
Grief is a predatory bird, sleek, black and oily, perched on the branch of a stripped tree. Only the eyes move, a reaper watching in thin crystalline winter light, waiting for a slight melting, an imperceptible yet discernably delicate cracking in the hard frozen shield upon which you have placed yourself and which surrounds you, you choose to believe, like holy light, guarding you from pain, tears, anger, longing, despair and all the other things a human heart suffers from in the clutches of grief. The raptor grips you by its talons and though you try to avert your eyes, knowing you should fight, it’s easier to play dead.
We have come to Gullfoss, a place that you loved with every heart beat, an assassinous waterfall in a chasm violently knifed into the heart of Iceland, frozen power suspended in time. My hands hold a box containing what used to be you, for it is here you wanted to be for eternity. You once told me that waterfalls are symbolic of life and all that that implies. Like waterfalls, life moves too fast. It’s dangerous, it’s unpredictable, there’s often no symmetry, but the magical part is that the river you see one minute isn’t the same river the next, it can never stagnate or grow tired or stop being dazzling. You said, everyone loves a waterfall, in spite of all the unknowns and the dangers, everyone is addicted, just look at it. But I can’t.
Wintry frozen Gullfoss is a thousand times more intense. The longer you watch water that is frozen in motion, frozen even as it falls from a great height, you begin to see that what is happening is the slowing down of time, the slowing down of the breath, the easing of a bereft soul. Frozen falls are the encapsulation of the seasons, the eternal turn of the Earth around the Sun, the endless cycle of birth, death, rebirth.
Sometimes in chaos there is calm. Life is like going over a waterfall in a life raft, a terrible leap into the void, adrenaline at full throttle. How else, you said, could anyone possibly live? Underneath that glassy beauty is a life-force waiting to return to this life, waiting to ooze out of its icy confines, drop by drop, drip by drip and there will come a day when the tree buds return, the lurking spectral grief will fly away and the numbness will melt into a hopeful spring. The life raft is ready for the thaw, and when the moment comes, I’m going over.