Life is not what it’s supposed to be. It’s what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference. Virginia Satir http://www.brainyquote.com
The ocean’s waves came up, splashed around her and sprayed her face as she sat there waiting. She smiled. It was a good omen, she thought, like when the Priest comes around sprinkling everyone with Holy Water. Luella Delsapo came out for a walk early this morning, the beach town just starting to stir, the tide was out and the morning was gray. The sand, full of tiny holes and bubbles was cold and damp under her feet. She didn’t care that the rocks were still wet as she took a seat to gaze at the horizon. It was chilly for summer, and she was glad she brought a shawl. She sipped tea from her travel mug and took a deep breath. The salty air of a brand new day filled her lungs, and she breathed again deeper into her belly. She tried to relax.
Luella liked watching the sunset and closing the day with a colorful display, but she loved the sunrise. There was something promising about imagining a Higher Power slowly pulling up the shades to let the sunlight fill the day and bring us out of the darkness. Compared to sunsets, the morning colors seemed softer, gentler to her as the lavenders and pinks turned to honey behind the brilliant golden ball. Luella was not disappointed this morning. As the sun crowned the horizon, she closed her eyes to take it all in- the sounds, the smells, the cool breeze on her face; she waited for the sun to warm her. Luella Delsapo had longed to be here. She needed to be here.
She had visited other beaches, like the beautiful beaches in the Caribbean with aquamarine waters and parades of colorful fish. She had been to the white sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico and enjoyed watching dolphins in their natural habitat. It was as if they performed their dance just for the pleasure of being alive. But it was this gray, rocky beach that through the years collected much of her tears. She came after the heartaches or to remember loved ones on her personal memorial days. It was this part of the immense ocean that allowed the winds to take away the hurt and give her the strength to start over. It was here she dared to dream again, and that’s what she came back for.
Recently when a friend passed expectantly, Luella heard the words one can’t escape at every funeral. The expressions of condolences are meant to be of comfort, but after the one-hundredth time, they seem to lose meaning. Well-intended friends and family try to be reassuring with phrases like “she’s in a better place” or “he’s no longer in pain” or “they would not want to see you suffering”; Luella remembered. She had heard it all more than once.
The first time Luella lost someone close, it was shocking to her that a person can actually feel the physical pain of a broken heart. She was twenty-three and never knew the heart could hurt so much. It was as if an elephant was sitting on her chest to make it burst like a water balloon, and yet it didn’t. After a while, as the days passed, when someone approached her to say: I’m sorry for your loss, she said: “Well don’t be, it wasn’t your fault, and there is nothing we can do about it now.”
People told her to give it time; everything is better with time. Well, Luella found out they were right, but it’s not magic. Time heals, but the pain doesn’t go away. It is there in the background, in the corners of the mind. She learned that over time the pain of grief is not felt with the same intensity or frequency, but on any given day something will trigger a memory and the wound is fresh again. Fortunately, she developed the ability to recognize it and give it a moment before continuing with the business of living.
Luella came to understand that to manage grief; one needs to prepare for the flooding of emotions. The first year, was the hardest. On every holiday and every birthday, she was reminded that the life she had dreamed of with her husband was no longer an option. She often cried for herself and for her children. She was familiar with the process now. She created traditions to remember, and activities for self-care. And so it was that each time Luella lost a loved one, she didn’t feel as confused or overwhelmed.
In prayerful mediation, she became aware of the sun warming her soul as her breathing caught the rhythm of the rolling surf – in and out. With each exhale, the ocean rolled out with the pain and gently came back in with hope. She opened her eyes to find the sun well over the horizon, the grayness had dissipated, and it was the start of a beautiful summer day in New England. She found what she came for – a new day with hope for new beginnings.
#shapingyourstory Week Two I’m incorporating assignments into new posts while I’m working on another project. Really enjoying the lessons. Thanks a bunch Michelle W.