Monday, June 15, 2015
We're on a three-week road trip—the longest and furthest we’ve ventured together since Noah’s death. Until now, my husband has needed to stay close to home, where routines, familiar faces, garden, and pets are a comfort. Thankfully, our dog Lobo is traveling with us.
As we walked, or rather, tumbled across a wild beach in Oregon in a ferocious wind, I was gladdened by Lobo’s leaping and frolicking. I wasn’t gazing out to sea seeking a flicker of Noah’s presence, like I often do at the ocean. I wasn’t even looking for a souvenir in the sand to bring home for his grave, a reminder of yet another trip he might have taken. I was present in the present rather than dwelling on what might have been or what once was, or summoning up a griefwave.
Dutifully, I drew my usual big “Noah we miss you” heart in the wet sand at the far end of our walk. I had vowed to do this for Noah, a surfer and sealover, at every beach I visited that he would never see. The wind was already starting to blur the letters as I finished. I was feeling so detached that I forgot to put “xox” at the end.
When we turned around, making headway against the wind took all our strength and attention. I could feel pinpricks of sand on my cheeks, the dragging resistance of each step. Hunched over, all I could see was the small square of blowing sand in front of me. Then suddenly, I noticed heart-shaped stones strewn everywhere, in black, white, gray, infused with evening light. Hearts, really? I looked again. Rough and jagged, but definitely hearts. This windswept beach was full of love tokens and I hadn’t noticed.
Maybe I’d been looking in all the wrong places. Here, unbidden, were signs from Noah or the universe, imperfect and precious. The more I looked, the more I saw.
The next day, I was drawn again and again to a viewpoint above the beach. I gazed out to sea, finally, and reconnected with a griefwave after a week or more of numbness. I thought of how numb Noah was in his last months, exiled from any love or laughter. We loved him, he loved us, and he knew this, I feel increasingly sure. If only he had loved himself--his imperfect, unfinished, precious self--and held on.