It’s so interesting to me how our bodies remember things our conscious minds can’t always. I got my tired kids to sleep easily last night and I was looking forward to an early bedtime for myself after a full weekend. My body was tired and heavy, but my mind couldn’t relax. I was thinking about water and the tides and the ocean.
I woke up this morning to this photo I posted on Facebook eleven years ago. It was taken at 6 am because I always loved sunrises better than sunsets. The beaches weren’t crowded and we had our whole day ahead of us. It was the second time I traveled to Virginia with B, and it felt like a homecoming of sorts because the two of us had fairly recently picked our old dusty love off the shelf to see if we could make a life together after three and a half years apart.
The first time Brian and I went to Virginia Beach was in the spring of 2005. That was also the first time I saw the ocean. I remember being overwhelmed by the vastness of it all, by the energy and uncertainty. That first trip, I barely waded in to my knees the whole time we were there. I was afraid of being swept off my feet, of what I couldn’t see below the surface.
We made many trips to the beach during our time together. Brian, having spent his formative years there, had none of the reservations that plagued me. I can remember our drives to Virginia and how on the home stretch when we would come out of the inland ￼trees and closer to the city, Brian would put the windows down so he could breathe in the salty air. He was home and he came alive in those moments.
By our last trip, I actually did swim. I swam out farther than I should have. I’m not the strongest swimmer. But I wanted to feel what it was like to be part of something so much bigger than myself. There were no major mishaps, except that I lost my mom’s designer sunglasses in a wave. I didn’t want to leave.
Grief is so like the ocean. I’m not the first person to make that analogy. I actually had a therapist introduce this idea to me many years ago. She said that grief was like standing in the ocean, and sometimes when the tide is high, and the waves just keep on coming, its all we can do to take a short breath and hope we won’t be swept away. And sometimes, in spite of our best efforts we are tossed and tumbled and we lose sense of which way is up or down. But when its low tide, the waves lapping around our ankles, we notice it, but its not threatening.
If grief is the ocean, then the love between Brian and I is and always was an anchor. It holds me in place so I don’t drift out too far.
Our marriage was far from perfect. We had struggles that affected us personally and as a couple. But we trusted each other, and in the words of M. Scott Peck, “true love is not a feeling by which we are overwhelmed. It is a committed, thoughtful decision,” and one we made together. One of the very few silver linings that came with a terminal cancer diagnosis was that all of the other trials, every single one, even the ones that would have shaken us to our core in a “normal” situation, paled in comparison to the knowledge that I would lose my husband.
I’m recently finding myself in a new place. A place I hoped to be in again at some point, but also that I would be okay if I never was. I feel safe and ready to anchor up my love and drift out a little into new territory. The benefits are outweighing the risks and this all feels safe and easy, but also thrilling.
I’m grateful for the time Brian and I had to talk about my future without him by my side. He knew my nature to overthink and care too much about me what everyone else thinks. He was strong in his admonition that I wouldn’t be alone forever.
I don’t know what the future holds. I’m still a worrier, even though I know better than anyone else that worrying only robs us of the now, which is all we have. So I’m doing my level best to enjoy these clear skies. Sunny and 72. ❤️