Walking, and Holes

I walk a lot these days. To stay strong and healthy, to try to lose weight and clear my mind. My legs are moving and my mind is wandering. So many past places to remember and visit, so many things to hear and see and imagine. Today is Susanna’s anniversary, one year since she died in the hospital. Yesterday was one year since I last heard her voice and saw her with her eyes open, and since I lived in my life the way it used to be. The sun was shining, the flowers were coming out on all of the trees, just like today. I dropped my son off at school this morning and started walking, walking, walking.

I walked to Manhattan Beach and wrote her name in the sand. There was one day early on last year when I did the same thing. It seemed like a good idea. On the way, I saw her inside of my mind like I sometimes do. Those of you who are reading this can make sense of that in the way that makes you the most comfortable. I saw her wearing the same outfit she was wearing when it happened, when the brain aneurysm ruptured in the car and began all of this. I had thrown the clothes away in the bag they gave me at the hospital, except for the glittery new light up sneakers which are now in our living room. She greeted me with love while standing on a park bench by Sheepshead Bay. Once I was sure of her she took my hand and walked with me. We passed some large holes dug in the soil, parallel to the sidewalk, and I thought about the reality of her body dying and being buried. There is no way to remove the sadness of this part of the story, but please stay with me. That is the whole point.

Susanna walked with me and though I could not even telepathically tell her in words what I was feeling, she knew. A deep uneasiness, a painful churning, but an absolute faith that this, too, is okay. The resolved and unbreakable faith of the broken. This is what holds you up when your insides collapse. I have it at all times now. Nothing shall ever seem okay the way it used to, but there is nothing to fear. Your fears are a part of you and will come to pass. I really believe this. There was a sickly artificial odor in the air, only at the spot where the holes were dug. It reminded me something I used to smell while walking across the Pulaski Bridge from Greenpoint to Queens, where I would get the seven train to Manhattan. I liken it to cherry scented air fresheners for cars, the pine tree shaped ones which do not smell like pine. This annoyed me and made me think about moving to somewhere with cleaner air. I do not know where it came from.

Susanna joined me and we made it to the beach. I felt appreciative of the many people working and cleaning up and of the handful of people walking for health and solitude on the sand. We are all truly one person at the source of it all. The weather was stellar, stunning. I wrote her name at the edge of the water and waited for the small waves to carry the letters toward the Atlantic Ocean. Her name was there, and then it had gone. I stood for a while and looked at the waves with sun sparkling on them, felt the gentle wind. And a message came into my mind, it was this: “You are still here. You have not been able to truly feel like you are here, for exactly one year now, but you are still here.” This glimmered some new hope into my future.

I felt the sea in the same way I felt it when I was a little girl and my family brought me to the beaches of Rhode Island every summer. Every sense full, plus the sense of eternity, where we really come from, filled by being at the edge of the sea. I walked on the shore for a while and thought about beauty. Real beauty, not superficial beauty but the beauty of the earth and skies. So many times this year I have felt saved by beauty. Love among us humans is sometimes messy and painful, it can feel demanding. But beauty asks for nothing and it makes you want to live and survive, instantly.

When it was time for me to go I walked by the holes in the earth again and still smelled the fake cherry pines, but by this time there were landscapers placing trees with burlap-wrapped roots into the holes. Susanna’s Day of Planting, following me. After today I feel closer to facing the holes in my life. The deep crevices and piles of heavy, dark soil built up around the day when I had to let go of my Susanna. She lets me know she will be with me as I heal and cultivate the things which will come next. Seas of angelic beauty are still there, love never dies.

By trishfreer

Mother, writer, artist and teacher grappling with grief and loss.

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