It’s been an eternity since I wrote to you. It’s been an eternity since you left.
So much has happened. I’m a wife now. A small tragedy from which I will never recover is that you weren’t here to meet him. You always told me that Heaven was carving out a special soul for me. I wanted to believe you, because you were milk and honey and truth and hope, but I also knew you were unwittingly partial to me and my happiness, which perhaps polluted your ability to accurately divine the future. But Gram, you were right. He is a special soul. He was carved out just for me. I know you can see it all from where you stand. Do you see our sandy Sundays? Do you watch with us as we watch the waves crash and retreat? Is it you who places all that green glass there for me to find, just when I need it? I can hardly ever sit with my toes in the sand without thinking of you; you loved the beach so much. Maybe that is another reason why this place feels so much like home to me, why I breathe so easily here. I haven’t used my inhaler more than twice since December and I can’t help but think of that as a metaphor for how life in general feels, now. I just breathe so much better. I didn’t realize how discontent I was before we got here. But now I can feel myself expanding and reaching and inhaling deeply and Gram, it all feels so important.
We lost something precious a few months ago. And it was an unprecedented place of aching. And I couldn’t talk to you. I couldn’t sit with my broken heart and listen to your comfort, to feel it seep over and through my ribs and coat them like warmed syrup. But I found some solace, Gram. I found an echo of that honeyed comfort on a particular day at the beach. I had been weaving myself in and out of healing, like the thread of a needle not sure what exactly it’s stitching together. Or back together. It was dusk, “the hour I like best”. (By the way, I still hate that I let Marlee borrow that copy of The Age of Innocence you sent me in college. Aside from those words I love so keenly, it would have been something for me to hold on to- something you once held.) The beach was empty. It was only me and an ocean. A wide, deep expanse of crashing and retreating healing before me. I sat and watched it for minutes upon minutes, and I saw my ache in those waves. They crashed into themselves and turned to foam. The tide eagerly danced up over the rocks and broken shells, and then retreated to do it all over again. And isn’t that how it all goes? We crash into ourselves, life crashes into us, tosses and turns us and then gently retreats, just to do it again and again?
I got up and walked toward the tide, hoping for a decent sized piece of glass. The water rushed over my feet and back again, and I picked up shell after shell, tossing them back when realizing they weren’t in perfect condition. But then, that didn’t seem fair- to discard something just because it was broken. I, after all, was a little bit broken. What the tossing and crashing of those waves had done to those shells, life had done to me a little bit. But here they were, beautifully adorning the sand, gracing themselves against the rocks. And so many comforts flowed into me, Gram. I was no different from that great, crashing expanse before me. I had been lifted high by Celestial tides and those same tides had come crashing down. But, I had expanses within me yet uncharted. And I had depths, too. The healing was in those depths, and I would eventually find my grace to meet them.
I picked up an abalone shell, almost perfectly intact. It looked like butterfly wings to me. The ocean, this place– it was giving me wings. You have your wings now, and I am finding mine. Help me keep them always ascending to the sky, Gram. To the place where you are. To the place where I love you.