For several years after our parents died, my sister and I walked to the end of the pier every evening to read the message on the illuminated board installed in the middle of the ocean.
She believed the messages that flashed on the board came from the afterworld. She also believed mum and dad would send us messages, and she didn't want to miss the communications when they arrived. I did not share her beliefs but I rarely let her walk alone.
Once I asked her what kind of messages she expected them to send. She simply shrugged and said she didn't know.
Perhaps a note saying they have arrived safely.
Arrived where? I asked.
Heaven maybe? she reckoned, unwilling to entertain other possibilities.
Some evenings I was unable to leave from work early enough to accompany her on her walks. On such days, she would set out by herself and sit at the end of the pier, staring unblinkingly at the board until I came by to bring her back home.
Maybe you should let them go, I said one evening. Not hold them back.
She disagreed, even though she was soaking wet and shivering in the rain that day. I just want to know they are still out there. Somewhere, she insisted.
The message on the metallic board has changed not once in the all the years we've been here.
I can no longer join her on her evening walks. She hasn't stopped looking for mum and dad, but now she pins all her hopes on me. Sometimes she calls out into the wind asking me to send her a message if I can hear her. I watch her mutely. I wish there was something I could say or do to help her move on. But there are some boundaries we simply must not transgress.