I am housesitting for a friend in a home that is a two mile walk to the beach in a town I lived in for many years, many many years ago. For one of those years I was young and at a crossroads that was a zen koan, the sound of one girl crying, until the winds swept me along like stardust into the arms of fate where I began the work of befriending my shadow.
I walk these streets now and journey into another dimension while I pick up the pieces I have left behind, like seashells or abalone fragments. The young woman mourning the end of my first marriage and the loss of twins to miscarriage at three months pregnant. My long gone dog that lived to chase sandpipers who I swear is still out there hoping. That year when I was lost and grieving and the sea was my mother, rocking me back to life.
I stop at the small bungalow I lived in to take a picture to send to my grown daughter in Australia. Here. This is where I lived and dreamed of one day being your mother. A young woman is just about to put her key in the door and graciously steps aside when I ask permission.
I don’t understand. How time moved so slowly when my child was young, the days of endless dirty dishes, laundry, what to cook for dinner, and then she was grown and gone and it happened so fast, faster than even the older parents told me it would happen.
Now my friends are dying. They email me and try to sound casual…hey, I’ve had a biopsy and the cancer has returned. Hey I tried to read the New York Times but the words scrambled and didn’t make sense. Hey the news is bad hey I have to go in for another test. Hey.
Wait. We were just young. Remember the summer we rented that huge house on the shore in Plymouth, 100 rickety wooden stairs down to the beach no railing who needed a railing. Remember the endless hours swanning from one beach blanket to another, sharing joints and warm ice tea, diving into the Atlantic daring the waves to break us because nothing could break us, staying up until the rooster crowed, all of us, maybe twenty at any given time, so in love with each other, the babies, the old people, so ecstatic to be in love with each other, we sang the morning into being, we tucked in the moon. There was no darkness that did not yield to our light and our joy.
And now we write. We say my husband had a stent put in. My daughter’s farm was devastated by flood and the fires nearly engulfed her. We say I don’t understand how we got so old so fast. We say my wife is dying we say my eyesight is dimming we say hey. Hey I still love you across the miles and when I go for my next MRI I’ll text you. Let’s not Skype I look like shit, and we remember going topless, boobs standing at attention, begging to be licked, sucked, begging to be admired because we were young and invincible and we knew it. We fucking knew it.
We say hey come talk at my funeral and we laugh. We say you’re still beautiful but we laugh again because of the chasm between being beautiful and being still beautiful.
We laugh and say you’re full of shit as always.
We say hey, I love you. Thank you for writing this story with me. If you get to the other side before me, be like Houdini. Send down a white feather, a pebble, a seashell, or better yet, a scrap of paper that simply says hey.
We cling to the phone, press it to our ear, cherish what flows between old friends, all the unsaids that are said in the silence, the way we know it’s too late in life for regret, who the hell wants to spend even one day in regret when there’s still such deep connection, still the breathtaking abundance of the farmers market, a partner who still flirts, and of course the sliver of a hammered silver moon and the desert flowers that stop me to say if I can bloom, baby, you can too.
I retrieve all my missing parts so I can live whole. Wholly. Holy in the moment. So that all my clamoring fears and desires may grow still and know only the surrender to this illuminated presence, and like the fog horns that sound through the night, hear only love calling me home.