Sognefjord: A Father’s Day Passes

I dunno. Life always turns in ways you don’t expect. You set out on a journey expecting one thing, and life gives you something else.

I’m very tired today. This is the first day I’ve grieved. I have been at a low level of mourning since I found out two days ago, and I must admit to dozing on and off through my trip to Balestrand. However, there is a stave church here not far from where I’m staying, and one of the hoteliers, thinking it would give me comfort, advised me to go to this morning’s church service.

Well, it did give me comfort. I had words with the minister after the service. That’s when I lost it. I cried and cried and cried. As a result, today I’ve been very gentle with myself. Catrina and I met up for lunch and coffee. She’s out sketching and taking pictures. I’ve been out watching films about Balestrand in the winter and taking my own pictures, and resting in the room.


The view? Look, I could talk to you about the view. Catrina took pictures of the amazing trip we took through the mountains.

Yesterday our train was stopped at Al, because a fire in the mountains collapsed one of the tunnels, so we couldn’t take the trip via train. We were upset initially. We’d had quite a morning of unfriendliness trying to get to Oslo station, and this was a second straw. It could have had the domino affect of getting us late to one destination, and then later to the town where we had to connect up with the ferry to get to our village.

Instead it turned out to be a boon. We took a bus through the mountains and into the Sognefjord. Every twist and turn was another postcard moment. You will see pictures when Catrina gets them loaded. And believe me, you’ll look at all those pictures and you’ll nod, and go, “Isn’t that pretty?” I would have done the same.

I’ll probably never do that again when I look at a nature picture. Because now that I am here, I’ll realize that what I’m seeing is only an imitation of what is real. That words like “awe” and “majestic” do have real meaning and your soul can be transported solely by something beautiful that you see.

But if you see those photos later, and you close your eyes, and you think about how tiny you are against a giant stone troll, slumbering under the ground, the trees layered on top of him, his face visible in the twists of rock on the side, and if you look into the ever changing sky and light of your imagination, and never, ever see the same view twice, if you can do that in your mind’s eye, you will begin to have a sense of what this is like. It’s not anything you can hold in your hand and flip through. We try though. We can’t always be some place like here.

If God created heaven and earth in his image, and you take this as an imitation of what heaven would look like, just as photos are an imitation of where I am, I have faith that Neal is experiencing awe like this on his new voyage. That gives me some comfort, that we could be feeling the same thing at the same time.

And if you prefer that there is no afterlife, then maybe we are both sharing this here, in my imagination and my memory. And that will be sufficient unto the moment.

Neal’s obituary


Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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