I’m participating in a 30 day Grief Writing Project. Coincidentally the Prompt is: Melancholy, joy and the absence of joy, overcome by neither, open to both.
THIS IS GRIEF
Sitting at one of the most prestigious beaches in California, I’ve decided to come back to a place where we spent many happy times. The sun is shining, the beach is speckled with just a few people, not overcrowded at all, just perfect. The waves are a palette of all the beautiful blues and greens the ocean possesses. The sky is completely clear. The diamonds that you gave me are sparkling in the sun and so are my tears. This is one of the most beautiful places on earth. If I were given a choice of places I could visit or places I could live this would be at the top of the list. Because it’s so utterly beautiful.
And yet it’s so painful to be here without you.
How do I see the beauty? How do I take in the velvety sand? How do I feel thankful for this space and the quiet? How do I daydream about a future?
How do I just BE without you ?
Everything seems so unreal.
They drove to see me
I was worried I’d be too much for them
Because I feel like I’m too much for me
They brought me lunch
And talked about you
About how much you loved our place in the world, our home
How much you loved me and your children
How much you loved your vineyard and how proud you were of all of us working together
They described their conversations with you
They asked about our children and shared about theirs
They listened to me talk about you
They listened to how much pain I am in now
They hugged me in close
And I felt like I was on the earth
The wind blew fiercely while they comforted me
This felt real
This felt like an ocean to match my grief
I forgot to take a picture
In the evening, I attended the artist celebration. I was graciously served wine and delicious hors d’oeuvres poolside while I listened to the guests visiting. Someone was talking about wine making and their trip to Florence.
I wished we could have joined the conversation, I know we would have enjoyed it together. You would have had so much to share, and honey would have flowed over my heart. I drift off to Florence for a moment.
The lovely artist explained her work and I felt the energy and excitement of the celebration. I took in her creativity which was delightfully on display. Later, I introduced myself and after we had spoken for some time I shared why I had come to celebrate her. She gave me a gentle hug and a tender smile, today's stitch in my broken heart. As we visited I felt very grateful to smile and enjoy the company of creatives.
Our room looks right out at the pool. Sunburnt, the cool water was calling to me. You stood and watched me swim last time we were here. I imagined you there each time I came up for a breath.
Alone in the water, I consider why I have wanted a pool so badly. I’m so grateful for friends who have allowed us to cool off in the summertime. But what is it that makes me want my own body of water?
I think of that refreshing feeling of being under the water, completely submerged the whole world is gone. Peaceful light streaming through the space in which my body is moving effortlessly.
I hear my grandfather’s voice when I was only four years old telling me,
“You did it, you can swim!”
I feel the euphoria rushing over me, for having accomplished an impossible task. Hearing him who I loved being so proud of me when only seconds before I had felt like I might suffocate, like I wasn’t sure if I would survive. The memory is powerful. What four-year-old can explain or even understand that happening?
When I am underwater in a pool, sometimes I feel it all again,
I feel like I’m not going to suffocate.
I feel him whom I love
"You can do it! You can survive!"
Walking on the beach thinking I could find a log that we sat on when we were here last. Where does all this driftwood come from? Literally. It’s all over the beach. Maybe from Point Lobos…..I’m drifting…. with you on a drive we took there, images, the wind, the adventure, you. Watching you.
Watching my shadow, I marveled at the pictures the sun and I create. I brought a flower with me from the hotel, an angels trumpet. I remember the first time I saw this a magical tree, laden with trumpets from heaven, ready to make flower music. That was another time long ago when I felt my life was a dream. You and I in love must be a dream I had thought. I had never experienced anything so good, so how could it be real? I truly felt this way for years.
I’m still waiting for the sounds and smell of the sea and the feeling of everything around me to help me feel grounded and present. But I don’t really feel my feet on the earth. I stared at a little rock for a long time thinking it was here when you were here, somewhere. There’s nothing new under the sun. Nothing new here on the planet as people are coming and going. Creating. I picked up the rock. Rocks are supposed to help you feel present, ground you. I don’t know.
I filled two coffee cups with the sand to bring home and walked for a long time. When I finally sat down, I realized my hand was frozen stiff from holding the musical flower. I hadn’t noticed it happening, hadn’t felt it slowly becoming paralyzed.
Thinking of how deeply and truly we loved each other and how much we all miss you, I watch people walk or jog by, young and old, individuals, friends, couples, families, they all have stories. It takes a long time to know someone, to share a story. Surrounded by people in this beautiful place I feel so alone.
Even so I know you brought me here. You made it happen for my heart. You still made it happen for me.
You were the door opener, the key holder , the suitcase carrier, the adventure navigator, the hand holder, the flower giver, the art appreciator, and the smile maker. You were the table sharer, the sweetness giver, the wine chooser, the dream sharer, the surprise giver, the heart winner and the dessert sharer. You were the faith encourager, the fear fighter, the worry taker, the heart protector, the dream lighter. You were the friend welcomer and the family connector, the answer giver, the road mapper, the daddy hugger, the trap breaker and the tender lover. You were everything new and adventurous, and everything established and safe, and I missed all of you being brave.
As I readied myself to leave- I spotted a Calla Lily, a single stem holding a flower that had split in two. I picked it, a miracle messenger.
I stopped every few feet collecting a variety of flowers, each connected to specific memories.
I drove a few feet and picked an Angel’s Trumpet, another garden messenger. A few more feet a Hydrangea, last Mother's Day you brought me three. Next a Dianthus which grew atvour first home. Then Camellias reminding me of when we dated and delicate Lilies of the Valley, a scent from our closet.
I gathered them all.
I was doing what I always do at the end of a trip, you would watch me and smile patiently. I was overcome with that sweet feeling, of trying to treasure up the memories of what we’d just experienced together, to gather whatever was tangible around me so I could hold on a little longer. It was an unexpected sensation I’ve only felt with you.
It carried me down the road until I met our kids.
I was so happy to see them. I missed them with all this trying to be brave. We drove the long way to a favorite restaurant we all discovered together a few summers ago. We took our food and ate on the side of a cliff looking at the ocean, spotting a whale.
When we drove away, we passed a sight I’d never seen before: a white truck parked on the cliff, the bed of the truck was stacked high with ladders, heaven and the ocean in the background.