I left the restaurant and arrived at our car, my mind surprised at the fact that I was going to be the driver. Eleven months have passed since you last drove me. Still I'm surprised. After meals out, we would return to our car, and you always opened the door for me, always for 26 years. I pause to take in the message you carefully etched into my heart with every opening
You are worthy of love.
I made my way slowly to the ocean.
A front row parking spot was waiting for me. There were only a dozen people sharing the entire beach with me. Such luck was completely lost on me.
It was so cold.
I brought my basket and sat down on a log. But it’s too cold to sit and watch waves or write. I need to move and walk in this place. So back to my front row parking spot I trudged to put everything away. I bundled myself up in your jacket and retraced our footprints in the sand where we last walked here together.
I’ve never experienced this place when it’s been so cold and overcast, so gray, so empty.
I’ve never found a front row parking spot to the most beautiful beach in California and felt only gray and empty.
I remember an October visit here when the children were little and it was cold. I can see their rosy cheeks, and feel the chilly wind, but the sun was shining and we were all together, laughing and playing.
As I walked down the sandy hill, I passed a couple taking a selfie just like us last time we were here.
Do they know?
To drink it all in, to savor it deeply, to treasure every moment?
I stared at the waves rolling back on themselves, behaving in a way I had never witnessed before. Zipping up and cutting through themselves, it was the strangest phenomenon. An action within itself, all sparkling and mysterious. Liquid slicing and then sewing, shredding through itself sharply, then tying itself up expertly like a corset ribbon. My heart and soul understood what I was seeing While my thoughts are crashing chaos. Were the waters made to do just this? Was my heart made to do just this? Was my soul made to do just this?
What is my soul made to do in this ebb and flow, this cutting and sewing, tearing and tying, this slicing of half of me? My soul, as natural and beautiful as every soul, as natural a creation as the deep blue, watches and wonders.
It is so cold.
Here without you to warm me.
You always kept me warm.
The waves rolled back into the enormous ocean and instead of being swallowed up by it, they faced it and zipped through it like a racing cartoon, like something unreal I’d never seen.
But it was very real, I had just never witnessed it.
I stood as a spectator, feeling that everything around me was not real. How many people feel like this? Like they’re walking on this earth but they’re in a dream? And once you’ve been in this state, do you ever get back to feeling the earth under your feet?
It’s only 5:30, I’m back at the hotel trying to warm up and that feeling is approaching. It’s a feeling I used to get whenever we went somewhere, out anywhere with friends or family having fun or not having fun, either way when it was coming to the end. You shared you had that feeling too, the anticipation of being home, together.
Our minds and bodies
I don’t know what the hell I’m doing here
Feeling the anticipation of faithful love
A heart habit unbroken
I thought I was going to feel grounded,
feel the enormity of the coastline,
of the ocean.
I was going to be alone with my thoughts, uninterrupted.
I was going to smell the air and feel the vastness of the sand on the shore and something sacred and calming was going to be waiting there for me.
Go watch the sunset and listen to beautiful music and call our kids.
My heart felt warm hearing their voices. The sun set between lines of clouds on the horizon. Golden rays radiated toward the ocean, and danced brilliant on the waves. Parked across from a castle I stood watching two otters calmly floating on the stormy waves, content and at peace with their lives under the sun.
I felt warmth as I watched their calm in the storm.
Is this real? I’ve never witnessed this before.
Returning to town I walked through the hotel you surprised me with for our first anniversary. More beauty wrapped in sadness. I’m amazed at how generous and thoughtful you were to me. I ordered calamari to-go from the bar and took a priceless souvenir, the paper napkin I had stared at as I waited. I cried eating and drinking our favorite dish to share. I watched Her Majesty Mrs. Brown and I wondered about how uncomfortable some people are with grief and how hard it is to re-engage with life. And how no one wants to be in this.
I stayed up late and woke early from a dream of us talking about our love. I stretched and I listened to a morning reading and I felt like I was going to be OK, I had bravely survived the night , it was time to get my breakfast.
When we stayed in a hotel you often picked up the breakfast. You would gather an assortment of fruits and pastries, put cream in my coffee and bring in a tray, making me feel like a princess. It was beyond kind of you. Other times we’d go together and visit while we gathered our food. I didn’t think breakfast could undo me, but it did. The ache of missing you is physically painful. There is no reasonable solution to this, one must eat.
It took me a while to gather myself to leave the room after crying over croissants and coffee without you.
I could hear you say “OK, are you ready Dear ?”
I grab the key. You were always in charge of the key for the room. You just did that, you took care of us. All I can think is I wish I would have said thank you more. I know I said it for the breakfasts, but I didn’t say it for the key. I didn’t say thank you for being responsible for the key, which made me feel cared for.
I’m filled with overwhelming regret. I know I felt grateful. But now I wish I would have said it a million more times. This recurring feeling tricks my mind into believing I was not only ungrateful, but undeserving. Undeserving of your love, because I want to say thank you about the stupid key. This nasty lie sneaks its way into my wounded heart, hooks itself into other lies and tortures me for several agonizing days until I unravel that it simply isn’t true. I have read this is common and normal in grief, experiencing pain and regret even anger for not being able to say “thank you” one more time.
Thankfully this early morning is sunshiny, I walk to the beach and watch the surfers. My mind feels tired of seeing metaphors. I try to simply watch.
They quickly stretch, then run right into the ocean, plunge under the waves pop up and wait to ride. I wonder what it feels like to swim under so many waves. When they finally catch a wave, it’s breathtaking, magical. I imagine it must feel unreal, riding on water. Rarely is the finale smooth; they almost always crash hard at the end. It must hurt. The crashing. My mind guesses it must be worth the moments of liquid magic.
Tears and true love, cutting and sewing. Riding euphorically, then being engulfed.
They pop-up, recover, then float on their boards in the endless ocean, waiting patiently for another wave. When the wake is big enough they’ll ride again.
Witnessing the poetry of riding the most spectacular sparkling waves, being in the moment of the drama, then crashing into the immense ocean leaves me numb.
You were the greatest wave. You lifted me up and made our life liquid magic. What I wouldn't give for one more moment with you.
Life seems a cold, waveless unending expanse without you, undeniably majestic and powerful.