We visited the site again this morning. Before the incident, I walked Jazzy past it sometimes as many as six times on a typical day. What happened Wednesday hasn’t deterred us from that ritual.
For the past couple of days, we’ve stopped in the same location from which we’d spotted the body, and both Jazzy and I have stared down into the empty water. I know Jazzy has been reliving that moment as much as I. Until this morning, I’d gaze down unrealistically wishing that I might somehow see something that would replace the shocking reality we’d found. I had no choice but to look, my eyes drawn to that place in the water.
This morning was different. I found myself hesitant to look, feeling eerily reluctant, as if I would find another lost soul’s vessel floating there. I knew if that happened, I would surely vomit. The first time hadn’t hit me that hard, but a second time would have sent me over the edge and into the Twilight Zone.
Once Jazzy and I crept to the side of the high bank and looked over, I was relieved to see…nothing. But when we turned to leave, I noticed something I hadn’t before. Surely it was because of my focus and dread that I hadn’t noticed it: a sole iris, purple and lovely. Irises grow wild, so it wasn’t completely out of the ordinary. But as I looked closer at this fully bloomed blood iris, I saw that it was surrounded by potting soil. It had been freshly planted.
I was immediately taken aback at the instant of this revelation. Someone had cared enough to leave this flower on the site of the woman’s passing. Had it been family? Had it been one of the law enforcement officers or EMTs? Or had it been a stranger?
I must admit that I felt both pleased at someone’s thoughtfulness but at the same time somewhat guilty by it as well. I had unjustifiably found a sort of kinship with the deceased, the thoughts of this person and her life dominating my mind for going on three days. Some of the memory remained very unpleasant: the sight of what turtles do to a body, motionless in the water, forever etched behind my eyes; the sound of Jazzy’s frightened bark at the body’s movement while being assaulted by the turtles, sounding over and over in my ears (normally silent, she’s barked softly no more than six times before this in her eighteen months of life); and the footprints leading to the body on that muddy bank forever being questioned in my head.
So has anything changed for me or Jazzy Brass? I can’t say it has in a major way. For some days to come, Jazzy will likely be drawn, as I will, to the place we’d stood on that faithful morning. I will be attracted to the flower as well, in hopes that it will continue to bloom in the absence of the life it symbolizes.
I will treat my golden retriever companion’s side trips from the beaten path with more respect than they would normally deserve—her often picking up on the scent of rabbits or squirrels. After all, this is the second body other than rodents’ she’s found—the first being a yearling deer killed by a bobcat or pack of coyotes right here in suburbia last fall.
I will put this day behind us in hopes of never reliving the feeling of unbelieving helplessness from less than three days ago.
My self-therapy session is finished.