I have been taking a grief writing course from Refuge In Grief the last two weeks. For many, it provides an incentive to write. For me, I cannot turn the words in my head off. But the exercises give me focus. They help me pull myself out of the ruts and mud and find new and exciting paths.
This day, we were asked to write about people who mentored us along the road of grief. I immediately thought of the ocean. I cycled the Pacific Coast Bike Route a month after Vasu’s death in 2009, and the ocean became an old friend. It listened when I needed to let grief flow out, it scolded when I couldn’t see past my own pity, and it pushed and pushed and pushed me, refusing to let me stop. Tomorrow, I will be returning to the shore. It is Vasu’s birthday on Sunday, Mother’s Day, and I will have and entire weekend of quality time with him, and with the wise old ocean. Vasu would have been eleven years old.
“It’s been a long time since we saw each other last,” I say to the Ocean, my smile a little sheepish.
“Yes. Why have you not come to visit me?” The Ocean asks.
“I have been very busy,” I reply.
“Is life so busy that you cannot take a day to sit?” But there is no judgment in its tone. Just curiosity.
“Yes and no. I could have made the time if I wanted to.” My smile fades.
“And is life still so sad?” The Ocean asks with immense calm.
“No,” I respond immediately. “Life is full and robust.”
“And yet your smile does not keep hold of your lips.”
“It is not life that does this.” I speak slowly, picking my way through delicate tulips of thought. Their petals will shatter if I trudge too hard through them. “Life is full of noises and distractions, love and anger, mistakes and dreams. What makes me sad is memory.”
“Memories of Vasu’s death still haunt you?” The Ocean is surprised. “I thought you let that be.”
“I did, yes. I chose to let the memories go without a fight, hoping they would not be gone forever. And they weren’t. I remember him better now than I did for the first year or two after his death. Memories of Vasu do not make me sad. He was such a happy child, full of spunk. Memories of my wise little man only make me smile now.”
“So what steals your smile today?” The Ocean asks.
“You do,” I reply honestly. “It is my memories of you that tug like gravity on my face. I miss you. I miss sitting on your shore feeling every possible emotion come and go on a whim. I miss the confidence I had, knowing who I was without apology. I miss the days when I had no home but your sun-warmed beaches. I could have lived a homeless woman my entire life.”
“So why did you turn back. Why aren’t you still wandering the world, free to feel and be?”
“There was one memory of Vasu that refused to fade…”
The Ocean is quiet now, listening with the infinite patience of possibility.
I continue… “I remember how he loved me, wildly, willfully, passionately. I came back to life because I wanted that kind of love again.”
Happy Birthday, Vasu.