I scurried down the flights of concrete steps. Pieter had arrived on his bike. Didn’t want to miss a moment of being with him.
He lived close to Nature, he was “of the land”, and had grains of its earth embedded under his finger nails. The sun had tanned his face and energized his lean, strong bronzed body.
From Afrikaans stock, his father and his father’s father passed down the respect and admiration for the unique landscape of the Cape of Good Hope, where the mighty mountains tower above the oceans. The warm Indian Ocean on the abundant east coast and the cold Atlantic Ocean on the stark west. He knew the natural secrets of the white sands and rich soils, and loved exploring its Mediterranean-like magnificence. He was going to share one of its lessor known secrets with me – the foot pathway down Table Mountain, the long walk across the rocks, past the fresh water lakes and through the indigenous forests.
I didn’t know his plan for this sunny day as I rushed out the girl’s residence gate and into the tree-lined street. There he was, jet black hair tossed by the wind and deep brown eyes, alert and inquisitive. Not yet a boyfriend so we didn’t greet with a kiss. Just friends, just excited to be going on an adventure together in our new city near the tip of Africa.
It was one of the early days of our friendship. We were happy to be learning more about each other. Pieter knew trust took time. He was in no hurry. He made no demands. That was different.
We talked for a while in the street, re-connecting. He said, “Let’s go up Table Mountain”. As simple as that. He knew the way down by foot. The conversation switched to exploring new ideas as I climbed on the back of his bike, he asked me, “What do you think happens to you when you die?” Before he kicked his bike to start the engine, we debated, my hands holding onto his waist to balance. We considered the options and possibilities. And then he said. “I think when you die, that’s it, there’s nothing more. You are dead.” I thought about it. I’d never thought of that before. That’s it. The end? I sensed Pieter truly believed that’s what happens so I didn’t make light of it. His bike roared to life and we were off on our mountain adventure.
During that brief, relatively casual conversation, I had the realization – that could be what happens. When we die, and that’s it. There is nothing more. No heaven. No hell. I felt a small sense of relief with the possibility of there being no accountability for my sins. I still believed the story of Jesus back then. I’d heard all about sinners, though I didn’t think I was one. Is it just our ego telling us we live on in another dimension?
Dear Pieter, you opened my mind to more possibilities. Thank you.
Did we make our long walk down Table Mountain? That’s another story for another day.
I’m thinking of passing on today because my mother is nearing the end of her life of 91 years. She phoned me this afternoon and sounded so frail and I guess you could say, with kindness, with one foot out the door. She’s on another continent just, and wants me to fly to England to see her before… and I don’t let her finish her sentence.
With the global pandemic, Covid-19, there is no international travel, no domestic travel, no inter provisional travel, only local shopping for food and a few more things than when this Lockdown started.
We moved from Level 5 to Level 4 of the Lockdown here in South Africa yesterday, the first day of May. May Day, Worker’s Day, but the country can’t go back to work yet. It’s proving to be an economic disaster.