Only many seasons after he died did she understand why. Why when he asked her to come to the mountains, she explained they were too far from the ocean that captivated and calmed her, defined her very heart and soul. Soul? he had asked. The mountains do not touch your soul with their peaks and valleys and permanence?
Permanence, she thought. The very opposite in many ways to the ocean, with its changing tides, chameleon colors, tumble and treasure of sea shells, seaweed and drifted wood. Wide expanse of sand and sky holding the horizon, the clarity of stars at night. But what she said to him was, it's the salt in the air and seeing the sky resting blue above the ocean line.
Line. He understood about lines, not only in a mathematical way but in the artistic sense. His answer was his hand reaching towards the mountains, miles away, caressing a particular slope. Not expecting a response, he asked anyway, does that not look like Mother Earth is resting on her side with one perfect breast pointed toward heaven?
Heaven, she wondered, after all these days and memories past that conversation. Heaven would have been both, but it took seeing her own foot prints in this early summer sand, punctuated by the tiny scribble of shore birds, there one minute, not there the next, much like him.
Him and what he was not offering.... the permanence of the mountains, merely the grandeur and lovely silhouette. Now that she could read the tossed and tangled messages in the dark seaweed, she knew she had been willing to move an ocean and mountains to one place, for him.
"From too much love of living,
From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be,
That no life lives forever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea."
(from The Garden of Proserpine by Algernon Charles Swinburne)