I awoke in the middle of the night to flashes of light and strong thunder. A storm was raging out over the ocean- truly an awesome sight. I stood by the open sliding glass doors to watch the darkness suddenly become infused with bright light as lightning streaked across the sky. There is something extra special about storms at sea, and this one in particular seemed to speak to my soul.

The time has passed all too quickly. We arrived at the beach on Thursday afternoon, and here it is Sunday morning already. We will begin our journey home at noon, but not before more time on the beach and on our bikes. It’s time to return to reality and a very busy long stretch until the Thanksgiving holiday. Time to get back to our many responsibilities, to teaching, to rehearsals, to meetings. I still feel very much like I’m standing at a crowded escalator, with everyone jumping on all around me, but I stand there, afraid to take the first step. Life moves on, and I have to keep up…ready or not.

Aside from the beauty and serenity of our time at Seacrest Beach, it has also been an important time of reflection for me. I’m not going to heal my heart in the few days that we have been here, but I made progress. I am working hard to look toward the celebration aspect of my mother’s life, and not dwell in the deep sadness I feel at her loss, the painful memories of our last days and hours together. Our relationship was so much more than that, so rich and filled with life. What a disservice I would be doing to Mom by focusing solely on the end, when it was such a small part of the overall picture.

Instead, I want to continue to remember the good, the not-so-good, all of the experiences we shared. I want to delve more into who my mother was apart from her role as a parent, why we were so close, and my gratitude for the love and encouragement Mom gave me so freely. What a gift to be loved in such a way. I don’t have children, so I suppose I will never fully understand her fierce love…I can only be humbled by it. I just hope she left the world truly knowing how much I loved her in return, feeling my gratitude.

There is such a richness to my memories now, even the little things that come to my mind as I sit with my toes in the sand, gazing out at the ocean. This place has allowed me the opportunity to let go of my defenses, to drop the curtain and feel. The feeling can be painful, but it is a part of truly living. I don’t want to hide away from that which makes me human, anesthetizing myself from every chance to embrace my humanity. I can understand why my mind wants that, wants to avoid pain. When I let my mind and heart open, truly open, and remember scenes from the end of my mother’s life, it is heartbreaking. However, it is also heart-building. My love only grows for having loved so deeply and lost so painfully, for having shared the experience of my mother’s passing with her so intimately.

The storms of life are there to stretch us, teach us, burnish us, and make us open up. Like the amazing storm I watched this morning out over the ocean, they bring great bursts of energy, but ultimately, things quieten down and return to normal, though the memories of the storm remains. I don’t want to forget, but I do want to move forward through my sadness and live my life. There are so many exciting things ahead, and I need to be ready to embrace them fully, letting go of the shroud of melancholy that has been such a part of me since the morning of August 15th.

Mom raised me well and set a wonderful example for me of moving forward, bowing but not breaking from the trials of life. I think about the fact that as she went through a devastating divorce, she was also faced with the sudden death of both of her parents in a tragic car accident. And still she moved forward, still did the best she could. Her example, her lessons will forever shape and guide me on my path, and I will do my best to honor her memory and make her proud of me.
imageI, too, will bow, but I will not break.

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