I was young and cold as I walked towards the Charles Bridge. I’d spent the day walking around Prague. I was tired and, with the cold, had lost most of the feeling in my hands and toes. As I came closer I started to hear a mournful tone that I eventually recognized as music. I saw that a grey trench-coated man had set up a folding table filled with partially filled wine glasses standing in rows. As he passed his fingers over the rims of the glasses the melody of “silent night” rose into the mist. I passed through the tower and stepped onto the cobblestones.
Then, it started to snow.
I remembered sitting in the back of a funeral home, trying to keep my eyes low, and trying to pass the time until I could finally get out of there. I didn’t want to view the body, so I just sat in the back and waited. Eventually, my father in-law came over to sit with me. He was probably trying to make me feel more comfortable. Or, more likely, he was just filled with emotion from the day and wanted to talk. So, he cornered me. And ask me pointed questions. Mainly about when I planned to have kids. He said “do you want kids?” And, I said I did. He told me that having children had been the best thing that had ever happened to him. He said that having children had made him the man that he is. Then asked:
“and, why would you want to wait to start the best part of your life?”
Halfway over the bridge, I peered over the edge into the ice covered river below.
Years later, I was reading to my middle son. “The 3 Golden Keys” by Peter Sis. It’s a story of a man in a balloon who drifts into the city of his childhood. He climbs out and follows his long-dead cat through the empty streets to his childhood home. The door is locked with 3 locks. So, he follows the dead cat through his past to find the keys. They walk through the winding streets of Prague. When he crosses the bridge, he sees a ghost of himself and his cat pass him (and his cat) going along the other way. Finally, when he has the keys, he opens the door. And, he hears his mother’s voice:
“Peter, come in, it’s time for dinner” and he says to his daughter “Madeline, come in, it’s time for dinner.”
As I crossed the bridge in that snow, I saw a ghost of my older self (and sons, and cats) pass me, going along the other way.
All photos from Photo-Praha.com
This post was written as part of a series of blogs for “Lets blog off” The topic was “What’s your slice of Heaven?” I may have drifted off topic… You can check out all the other entries for this series HERE.