A friend’s furchild was going through cancer treatment and it wasn’t looking hopeful.
She wanted to walk a labyrinth.
I’d heard of one so we agreed that I would meet her at her house and we would go together and find it.
When I walked in the door I could see in her face, in her shoulders, it wasn’t good. He was already gone. She had made the decision that morning; it had been time.
We still went.
We loaded into my bedraggled station wagon, one of her supportive neighbors in tow, and we headed to the labyrinth, located in a cancer survivor’s park in the center of the eastern part of town.
The labyrinth was the medieval, Chartres-type, with eleven concentric paths around a central, six-petaled “goal.”
Wordlessly the three of us stepped onto the path in delayed sequence and began slowly looping around the folding trail. I walked softly and timidly, wondering what to expect, what to do and think.
It was, objectively, odd? Nonsensical?
As I followed the curves, the labyrinthine rhythm erased my self-consciousness.
We were walking.
We had a goal. We could see it. It was feet away.
The only real boundary was in our mind, in our obedience to the path.
One by one, we reached the goal.
Then we unwound, following the path again, leaving the goal behind.
One by one, we stepped out of the labyrinth.
This was good, my friend said.
It was good.
It was fall. The park itself was drained of color and the air was still, the sky overcast. We wandered around the park gardens, taking in the dried husk of a fertile summer. The beds were filled with flowers gone to seed. Spikes of coneflowers bristled a warning. Milkweed pods were bursting open and their flossy seeds were caught among the browning bindweed vines. Broken-necked zinnia blossoms nodded, haggard.
At the foot of the fence at the back border of the garden, I spotted what looked like a partial eggshell. I stepped off the path, took a few tiptoed steps across the mulched bed, and collected my prize, a forsaken passionfruit. Its seeds were mostly dried but still had the hint of a tropical-sweet smell. I put it in the car, tucked under the driver’s seat in a Subway napkin.
Months passed and the winter was harsh. My friend moved, south.
In early spring, I found the remains of the passionfruit, now in crumbles of pith mixed with silky black seeds. I collected the bits and pieces and planted them along the fence, with Hail Mary expectations.
They taste like magic.
It’s fall again.
I don’t understand the labyrinth, but I want to walk it again, with my friend and her new puppy.