In the middle of a stiff winter wind, she asks to go to the beach.
That’s where she says she wants to celebrate the turning of her calendar year.
To stand on the frozen snow and turn her face directly into whatever is coming this way.
We’re the only ones there.
Nothing can mean nothing, and everything means something. Yes — everything.
We walk the long boardwalk, our footsteps echoing hollow. She will be 61 this year.
We stand on iced sand hemmed with white snow and she says nothing, just gazes out at bared waters. I don’t ask her what she’s thinking.
The sunlight seems paled, hardly there in the numbing cold.
I do watch the way her hair moves in the wind, white waves of their own.
We wander down to where the waves crash on the stones. The water breaking its way on the unwavering.
Does her silence say this, that this was the way to live? The water lets go again and again on the granite, this oceanic surge of song, this symphonic crescendo. Is there anything more beautiful than the wild surrender to the rock?
The song is always found in the surrender.
Mama knew there’d be days like these, when I’d see. How many more years do I have Mama to walk the winter shore?
Her hair is whiter than winter and is this the season we’re already in? I want spring again. I feel like the child, our shoulders touching here at the sea.
There’s a whole lifetime of memories here at the lake and how many Sunday picnics of fried chicken have we had right up there at the lighthouse? She’d serve extra helpings of green coleslaw and I’d pump the swing high and I could see how we might soar straight out over the lake. There’s a time when you think nothing will end.
I lean into her and she leans into me, and we’re warmer like this, close. Doesn’t there have to be more than a decade left of this? And there doesn’t have to be anything. The waves keep breaking. Couldn’t she stay until she’s 117?
When you wake to losing someone, you win love.
When you realize that what you have, you will lose — you win real eyes. You win grateful joy.
It comes across the water and I turn to face it directly: It’s only when you realize everyone you love will one day leave you — that you really begin to love. I reach over for Mama’s hand and she squeezes mine softly, and that says more . . . most.
Someday, it is possible, I could stand here on my own 61st. I can close my eyes and almost see that.
How then she will be the memory already flown across the waters. How the song will sing on and I will hear notes that were long hers.
And it comes, a wave over me: How I will miss her.
That may be it: The way to experience a moment of unlimited elation — is to take a moment to imagine unexpected limitation.
Close your eyes long and imagine days without sight. And you open them to a brighter light. Imagine no water. And the next cold glass quenches like desert rain. Envision life without the loveliness of those you love — and you see how much you love.
Her half-smile there in the wind, it makes me half hurt, her pure worn beauty.
There’s a way to wake up and not to live numb.
The way to love life is to imagine losing it.
He who loses his life finds it.
The water keeps giving away to the shore.
One day, all this will be gone.
The sun, it seems so strong now, bright across water.
Mama, she lets the wind blow her hood right back and I don’t feel numb and there is a theological term for this — all this:
Full blown grace.
Standing there, her and I, we watch as it comes straight across the waters —
as it comes directly this way.
Us here and alive and in awe that any of this is at all . . .
This wind awaking everything.
Q4U: What’s stealing your grateful joy right now? Distractions? Fear? Loss? Worry? How could that change? Jump into the comments with Just. One. Thing to offer hope to another that has helped you: what verse, what song, what comfort, what great idea — got a link for us?
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