The Smiths had stayed in their camp beneath Cradle Mountain in Northwest Tasmania for almost six months, during which time they built their Huon pine ladder to the bridge which is to take them across the world. At last the clouds over Cradle Mountain cleared and it was the moment the Smiths began their journey. They collected their camping gear and rolled up their tents, and ascended the ladder. The climbers were three men and three women. They were siblings. They were climbing to see their parents who were in a plane crash over the Pacific Ocean. In their grief they did not believe in absolute death. For within them is their parents’ spirit. The ladder is to take the siblings to the area in the Pacific where the plane crash had happened.
Their parents had told them that death is the source of all melancholy. And though human beings might live as mind, body and spirit, it is the spirit which connects to the future. Nature must always have death, and so it does, but it leaves the human spirit alone. When the human mind and body ceases on Earth they become the spirit, so that this new whole might then live forever on Earth. This is what the siblings believe.
They alighted from the bridge and climbed down their ladder onto a place called Port Sorell on the northern coast of Tasmania. Here they stopped to rest, for there were small shops and a place by an estuary to have a picnic. They spoke of the perishable that becomes imperishable, and when mortality becomes immortality, when death is swallowed up in the unity of flesh and spirit, and therefore gone is its emotional sting. The food they ate was perishable, and they did the right thing and placed all their rubbish in bins provided by the local council.
Their parents had taken to the winds for an overseas holiday, breaking away, and freeing themselves of the normal duties as parents, and grandparents, for they had felt deserving to be temporarily free. The end of the holiday meant going home, but tragically they ended up in the sea. And now their adult children are looking for them, because they hold in their memories their parent’s spirits, and when they find their bodies they will give their parent’s spirits back, and then they can all live on.
Their hearts are not troubled because their parents are with them, and the place of their death has been prepared by tragedy, for them to go to, and their grief drives them so. Their parent’s spirits are absent from their bodies, and though at home in the sea, they are ready to be whole in peace. They have been given a home, though it was not of their choice, and it will become a decent home when their children see them.
One of the children, Sam, began his preparation to go ahead, for he is a navigator who loves the sea, and it is he who will try and find the spot where the plane came down. It was five years ago when it happened, and after many searches co-ordinated by many countries, the families of the passengers and crew were informed that the chances of recovering the wreckage was by now virtually impossible.
And the sibling Sam said to the others that all life is true, and to not be afraid for him when he goes up onto the bridge to traverse the Pacific every which way, until he finds the spot. It is the only cause, well worth suffering for. Love is on his side, and this will help him overcome such obstacles as the weather. Sarah, his sister, then said that in their quest there is little to fear. The Pacific is relatively benign at this time of year, the currents deep, the sea swells shallow. If love is their friend and is with them, Sam will find them, and above all things, let them all not veer away from their task and merely salt their love with frustration.
Sam would come back when he had found the spot. He will know the spot because a vital spirit of his father, his energy, would draw Sam’s leg down to the water. Sam expected to take months if not years in traversing the area he knew contained the spot. His siblings knowing this began to make provision to stay in Port Sorell until Sam returned. They moved into a house not far from where Sam had left them. The ladder was high enough for them to see and get to and for the locals to wonder about.
Their tears at his departure will stop flowing when the great joy of discovering their parents arrives. They have walked the line between two feelings, having the desire to depart and be with their parents, and the pleasure of abiding in the peaceful hamlet of Port Sorell. They also know that the life of their parents is in them, and they believe in them, and they will live. The manner of their parent’s life is in their thoughts; from whence they look for them; whose bodies at the bottom of the sea may be fashioned like that which the children imagine. And upon finding their parents the children will re-inherit the beauty of them. In this feeling they are steadfast, immovable, abounding in the work of the search, knowing that their toil will not be in vain.
What can separate us from the love of our parents they will say to each other. What can troubles or hardship or sorrow or danger really do? For they feel that neither death or life, anger or depression, the present or the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else on the Earth, will separate them from the deep love they have for their parents. Such is their loss. Those who create fantasies of a happy and perfect afterlife do not accept death, but while the siblings live so do their parents, until the last of them die, and then they and their parents will live on in their children, and in their children’s children. In their grief this is good and it is this knowledge which gives them peace.
The five remaining siblings stayed in Port Sorell for a year or so before deciding to move on to somewhere new. It did not matter where they went because the bridge was overhead. They bought a second hand Kombi Van and placed the ladder on top, tying it securely with bungy ropes as surfers do. There is of course no surf in Deloraine. But the town had an alternative lifestyle feel about it and the five siblings soon felt quite at home. After a few weeks two siblings, Ben and Sarah, decided they would climb the ladder and follow Sam’s path and when they find him help him look for their parents. This was not in the original plan but as their bond was unbreakable, not seeing each other in the flesh was no burden, because each was spiritually bonded to the other.
There were now three siblings left, Joshua, Anne and Penelope. Their sibling love for each other was very strong and while Deloraine remained an attraction the three stayed on happy in the knowledge that they will soon meet their dead parents. For they possessed something unique of their parents, and none of them will see them until all siblings have returned to their parents that unique spirit each had.
It had been a year and the three remaining siblings had heard nothing from Sam, Ben and Sarah. They began to wonder over the time it was taking before word would get back to them that their parents were found, and for them all to walk the bridge to the spot in the Pacific Ocean where their parent’s bodies lay. They began to talk of the rest of them leaving Deloraine forever and following their siblings. But that would mean their families would not know of their whereabouts. They understood the sibling’s quest and have not questioned it, for they too grieve over their loss. But loss and grieving must have its time. And it was decided that for every day since Ben had left an hour was granted for the siblings to stay in Deloraine until there remained the final hour.
It was not strange to the remaining three siblings that the final hour indeed came. Their time had come to leave Deloraine. And each sibling gave something of their spirit to a trusted child in order that they keep their memory alive, for this is only way of conquering death. Some wanted to follow but they were not allowed. And on a clear night when the moon was full and all the local residents were asleep the extended Smith Family gathered at the foot of the ladder and farewelled the three remaining siblings as they ascended the ladder which lead to the bridge which lead in a north easterly direction to the Pacific Ocean where the other three had gone in the search for their parents who had died in a plane crash. Joshua was the last to leave and when he got onto the bridge he pulled the ladder up to him and he began to walk the bridge with it on his shoulder. And not far over Bass Strait Joshua dropped it for he knew that he and his siblings were never going to return to where they all once lived. Each sibling, having got this far, is never going to rest in their search until Ben’s leg is finally drawn towards the bottom of the Pacific.