As a teenager I often felt lonely and alone. My family had moved from a surburban town of about 3,000 people to a remote country setting halfway across our state. I had to leave many friends and a budding social life because the only house my father could afford to buy at that time was in the wilderness of the state. He did his best but the remoteness and loneliness of the place with only about 600 residents was a lot to bear for a teenage girl anxious to get on with her life.

The location of this town is only about 12 mi (14km) from where I now reside but the change in altitude makes a tremendous difference. I am here in this town today, watching the snow fall and reflecting on my past. Watching the flakes drift down, I'm reminded how winter lasts a good month longer here than it does in town. It takes fortitude of spirit to survive in this landscape. Often times as a teenager I didn't have it. I really felt suicidal at times. Particularly as winter was finally starting to fade. When the ice was coming down from the hillsides and filling the river to it's highest I would go and sit on the ledge shores at the entrance to the gorge which as a half mile from my house. I spent many hours in solitude there while contemplating if my life was worth living while I listended to the river roar by. Sometimes if the temperature had risen enough I'd stick my legs into the water from where I was perched and let the river push my legs downstream. I'd think about what would happen if I just let myself go. The water was so high it had the strength of an ocean... what if i just slipped in and let the river carry me...how long would it take to drown, how would I bear being dashed against the rocks? Would my head smash, would I resist the smothering effects of the water? Would I go quietly and gently without being hurt? Drowning slowly and sleepily?

My legs would be pushed down the river and my will would drag them back up and the the river would push them back down again. Each time wondering all the same things over again... I'd think about what would happen if I just let myself go. The water was so high it had the strength of an ocean... what if I just slipped in and let the river carry me...how long would it take to drown? How would I bear being dashed against the rocks?  Would my head smash? Would I resist the smothering effects of the water? Would I go quietly and gently without being hurt? Drowning slowly and sleepily?

After a good long while of doing this, eventually as I pushed my legs back upstream- the love of my family would sink in. I knew I'd be missed by my family. They'd blame themselves and wonder why. Why in spite of  the cautionary warnings about my great aunt I'd never met, an aunt who killed herself with her Dr. husband's pills. Why her story didn't prohibit me from thinking of harming myself. I thought of my family crying, of my funeral. Who'd be there, how my family would go on without me...

Eventually and finally this place of nature and beauty would convince me with it's roar and tremendous current that I did have the courage and strength to go on. Then I'd go home and see my family. Never speaking a word about the afternoon. Sitting down to dinner at a noisy, raucous supper table with my parents and five siblings. Ready to go to bed and attempt another day. 

 

http://www.thetrustees.org/pages/291_chesterfield_gorge.cfm