The last time I saw my mom she was asleep in bed. A skeleton impersonating a human. Breathing took all her effort. I wished her sweet dreams, walked up the hill to the big house then slept in its front yard. The sun rose. She was gone. This is what woke me as I dusted the grass from my hair. There were clouds early that morning.

Mom wasn’t a great athlete, but she was patient behind the plate and I utilized this as often as I could when I was young. She would sit on a milk crate, a cigarette dangling from her lips, and I would pitch a tennis ball as close to her mitt as possible. In the colder months she would wear wool socks and a tan vest. She never complained about her knees, as most catchers have a tendency to, because she sat on a crate.

I was in someone else’s supermarket last September. It is here they bring their kids, or not, and find familiar things in familiar places. This somehow soothes people. Some days they would run into friends, other days they would not; both are good days. I saw Bella scoot around a corner and disappear. It was her, my friend from all of her summers and nearly a quarter of mine. Playing an inadvertent game of hide-and-seek. She was almost 30 years younger than I and now she is gone. This was the last time I saw her, near the almonds. Her hair was curly on top of her head. Her hands dancing as they always did. She had two older brothers that loved her.

I am helping a friend from England with a project. We met a month ago to deliberate.

“How do you feel about the progress?” I asked.

He responded: “Do you know the feeling when you lie in a bathtub when it’s full, submerge yourself in the water while holding your breath, then undo the drain plug allowing the water to drain around you as you are slowly left naked in an empty tub and all you can think about is death?”

A volcano on each side of the small island made it into the shape of an eight, like a strapless bikini. One volcano contained a dairy farm and the other was only walking trails that lead to large radio transmitters. We hiked around the crater of one on a hot afternoon, just above the dairy farm. I stayed far away from the edge of the crater as the wind felt like it would easily blow us in. What a magnificent view on the way down and what a way to go I thought: to be blown into a volcano.

We could not find anywhere to swim on the island for weeks. And when we finally did it was ice cold but protected. It was calm yet existing with an otherwise constantly pounding and angry Pacific Ocean.

We swam and I wanted my friend Bella to know this feeling. I wanted to call my mom and tell her about the pure happiness and the temperature of the water. I wanted her to know I was okay even though she is gone. I wanted my friend from England to ask me how I felt about our progress so I could respond: “Do you know the feeling when you are almost alone, floating between time and space and the glow of your soul shows through your skin, when you are left naked to breathe and all you can think about is life?”

Chris Fischer lives in Chilmark and is chef at the Covington restaurant in Edgartown This fall he is teaching a course on farm-to-table cooking at Boston University’s Metropolitan College. A version of this essay first appeared the art journal Hesperios.