As an expert griever at this point, I can assure you that grief can be an agonizing and abysmal magnetic force that can pull you under, stronger and quicker than any of the rip tides our local beaches along the Lake Michigan shoreline could ever hope to.
There’s an urgency and a quickening that occurs when the undertow strikes unexpectedly, as a malevolent grasping at your ankles is followed by your desperate and seemingly futile attempt to fight the current in retaliation to the overpowering and relentless thrust that has you in its grips. Metaphors can’t hold a candle to the awe-some power and ferocity of the darkness as it rises up to claim you as its own.
There’s a moment in the presence of the shadow self where release of control feels like a weightless void within reach, and so much easier than the struggle to keep your head above water. The small glimmers of sunlight dancing above the surface dissolve into murkiness, and “up” and “out” become distant memories of a self that has faded away from you. Panic is surpassed by an ineffable desire to just surrender.
Some days feel like there’s no way out.
But then…Other days, the sun rises like a whisper in your ear that says “wake up little one, I’ve got something for you”. On those days you leap out of bed with your hand and heart outstretched and you lilt toward the glow that feels like a promise kept.
Your eyes seem familiar and your smile returns and you believe that everything is possible and wonder finds its way back into your song.
If you are wise, you don’t question where this light has come from or how long it will last. If you are wise you don’t hold your breath waiting for it to flee. If you are wise you simply embrace it with all the courage and glee you can muster. And you follow it like the tail follows the kite. And you soar. And you swoon. And you let it fill you up.
And then, the next time that sneaker wave comes, the wave that brings you to your knees, the wave you dread and buck, the wave that makes you fear the very water that you love, you remember those ‘some days’ and the ‘other days’ and day by day, you see that they are all just days and that as long as you have them, you are alive.
And you give thanks and sing praises for the gifts you’ve been given, each and everyone, and you claim them as your own.
*Isaac and I on The Big Island of Hawaii, March 2009, facing our big water fears together.