Monday, June 15, 2015

Love Tokens

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.


  1. While I never hung on to life like others, I always wondered how people could move on after losing a life that they nurtured for years. I remember the first and only time I ever attempted suicide I was 17, and I could have cared less how my death would impact my family. I knew that no one except my mom would care, but I just wanted out and couldn't take it anymore.

    Looking back, I'm still surprised that I made it through those times. But I'm always left wondering what would be different had I gone through with it. Thankfully I'll never know, but seeing how you guys are dealing with it is really incredible. It's really a pain that I can't wish on my worst enemy, and reading these posts leave me in awe of how human beings can handle and live through anything.

  2. Thank you, Ahkenaten, for tuning into the pain on this blog. You must be a sensitive soul to have empathy for others' pain in this way. I'm so glad you managed to make it through that really difficult stage in your life and hope you can continue to share what you learned from that experience with others. Take good care --