For whatever we lose (like a you or a me) it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.
I’ve always been infatuated with the sea. As a child it was always at the top of my MASH game “place to live”. While it brought me peace and calmness, it also scared the hell out of me. Leaving that shoreline and breaking through the first wave took courage. The fear would slowly subside, but not without time and distance from the shoreline. The further out in the sea, the more I knew I was going to be ok. The shoreline was still there, not going anywhere, always watching over me.
Life is a series of learning to accept and then adapt; done in your own time and your own way. You approach that shoreline; sometimes retreating back and saving the journey for another day. But, ultimately crossing that wave is inevitable.
Over the course of Steve’s sickness, there were distinct moments of panic, denial, sadness and then acceptance and adaption. Last summer, Steve had one of those moments of acceptance. While I was away from the hospital, the staff psychologist had paid Steve a visit. They had discussed “getting his affairs in order”. Of course, given our situation, the immediate response was panic. The advice wasn’t for any specific reason, but just something that everyone needs to do and he had avoided for years. They told him that it didn’t mean that he was terminal; it just was something ordinary and wise. As this advice settled, I could see the transition between fear, anger, sadness and then finally acceptance. We talked about it, agreeing that acceptance didn’t mean that you were giving up. Acceptance didn’t mean that you were a failure or that you were causation for some self-fulfilling prophecy. It just meant that it “is” and once you accept, you can adapt and move forward.
Loss is different for each person. I know my loss is different then that of Steve’s friends or his family. I will never know their feelings or loss and they will not know mine. For me, it was a year of transitions. You cry. You feel relief. You feel desolation. You feel joy. You date. You don’t want to date. You feel lonely. You travel. You hold up. You work. You avoid. You face. You deny. You realize. Then, repeat.
“And if I hadn’t come down to the coast to disappear, I may have
died in a land-slide of the rocks, the hopes and fears.”
Then, suddenly, one-day acceptance hits. The sun is shining perfectly, hitting that water with clarity and calmness. Something pushes you to take that leap. A step that can only be taken alone. You dive into the wave, leaving the shoreline. You just know it’s time, for if you refuse you will lose all sense of self. This doesn’t mean that you are done with or have forgotten the shore; it just means it “is”. It will forever be what it was to you and you to it. The things you experienced will always “be”, but now there is beauty. It’s not the “cancer is a gift” bullshit; but the “person is a gift” truth. As you push through the waves, a feeling of power and strength rushes through your soul. Fond memories wash over the pain and you remember the person for who they really were, as opposed to what took them.
As you paddle out further, fear and familiarity is still there calling you to the shore. But, with distance, the confidences increases. Not only do you feel strong, but also equally as important, you know that it’s ok to feel that strength. It doesn’t mean you loved less or didn’t care. It is still there, part of your journey.
My feelings for Steve are unchanged. We all know that Steve was pretty damn awesome. The more I accept the purpose and amount of our time together, the more I can face life like he did; gracefully, kindly, fearlessly and with acceptance for the way things just “are”. I will forever respect and love Steve. He will always be a part of who I am, but he will not be all that I am and nor would he want it this way. I used to think that “we” was all of me, but it is not. “He was he” and “we were we”. And, now, I am still me and I’m pretty damn lucky.
I did what I did and now it’s time to face and appreciate the things right in front of me.
I was recently reminded that our interactions with one another are not without reason. Whether they are lovers or friends or family, our paths cross and we guide each other, change one another or enlighten. Sometimes we stay with each other for long periods of time; other times short quick spurts. Sometimes we return to one another and sometimes we part ways forever. Always with uncertainty, never guaranteed. The only certainties are your perspective on purpose, appreciation and acceptance. And, if you choose to embrace these interactions, painful or happy, amazing transformation can happen. Acceptance can bring clarity and evolution.
Over the past year, I’ve not only strengthen long standing relationships, but I’ve also met some amazing new people (What the heck would I do without all of you). People whose perspectives have influenced my thought process and guided me. This a true testament that everyone has something influential within him or her. Not only one person can affect your life. And there are people, as special as Steve, but in a different way. And the main reason I know this is because he taught me perspective and how to accept, adapt and appreciate.
For now, I will be open for whatever comes my way. I will appreciate all that I have; a healthy body, a sound mind, damn good friends, amazing family, a great job, love and experiences with many amazing people, including Steve who forever changed my outlook.
Steve was always so worried about my happiness and my growth, feeling like he held me back. I’m now passing the self pity and transitioning to acceptance; no longer wasting time, good health, opportunities, friendships or life in general. This is how I choose to respect and honor someone’s life lost, respect my own. One of the greater tributes to someone is to remember what they wanted for themselves, others and you and then really truly live and love.
“Now the water’s taller than me and the land is a marker line.
All I am is a body adrift in water, salt and sky.“
As I stood in front of my ocean, I accepted the tide, consciously diving in, continuing forward, adrift in the water; always with the shoreline in my soul. I can still see my past, but it’s more of a serene everlasting foundation. The pain of actually standing in it has faded. I know it will always be there, but distant and overtaken with the beauty, strength and appreciation.