grief paced like tides.


Once again, I do not know where to begin. I have been away from the depth of this daily writing ritual for too long. Even just a few days of writing absence (replaced by short posts) makes me feel upside down and asunder. I’ve spent the past several days simply holding out for a quiet space to rest in. Traveling and Miami Beach did not offer such luxuries. There were other gifts, but time and space to give myself over to the untangling of grief was not one of them.

I am relieved to be far away from the commotion and noise of Miami. To witness my friend, Kristine, achieve such high artistic success, that is why I was there. To spend an afternoon alone at Art Basel, led by Carl through a maze of some of the most powerful artwork I have ever seen, that might have been the other reason I was there. Moved by art in ways that I have never been moved before. I was stunned into deepest silence, an inner place, at moments causing heavy orb-like tears to roll down my face. I will not forget that. It changed me, as though I were some kind of soft rock being so gently sculpted. And possibly, there are even other reasons that I was led to Miami Beach, reasons that I do not yet know or even understand.

Yesterday I picked up a rental car and got outta there. It felt good to drive–windows open–through a complicated urban jungle of Miami roads and freeways. But after awhile, even that became too much. I’m too sensitive for such loudness and movement right now. Even the air traffic flew too low and loud. Nothing felt real, everything manmade. Finally, finally, finally…the landscape gave way to a gentler kind of jungle. One made of greens and blues, golden yellows and cocoa colored browns, moss and palms, sea oaks and sunset. I found dirt roads, unexpected pastures of horses and cows, orange groves and overgrown gardens.

The roads led me all the way to a sugary sweet cottage appropriately called the Heart Bean House. On it’s front porch, in a white rocking chair, sat my dear friend, Cynthia, waiting for me. I don’t even know if we said hi, but what I do remember is that I got out of the car and she wrapped her arms around me, her hand so tenderly holding the back of my head like a small child’s, and I let myself cry in her arms until the Christmas lights adorning her house became remarkably bleary and bright.

We gathered ourselves and then walked the block and a half down to the ocean to watch the moonrise. Dear God. The heart is such a small vessel in comparison to a full moon just beginning its ascent over such a salty sea. I felt peace. Utterly. The ocean, so full that it seemed a miracle that it didn’t just completely overflow. And it did. We walked along the moon bright beach for a long time, until the incoming tide began washing all the way up to our legs. A mysterious lunar pattern of waves…coming in just a little higher each time, then rushing back towards the moon with dizzying speed. The motion, much like Carl’s current presence of spirit and, at the same time, so similar to his swift exit from this earthly place. An ebb and flow. The tide, a rhythm that simultaneously, contrastively buoys and then steals the ground out from underneath. We walked and, as we did, I accepted this motion for what it is. It is what it is. I felt peaceful. Somehow held by something uncontainable. How that much salt-swelled water doesn’t just spill over its edges is a terrific wonder. How I (or any of us) survive this much love and loss is the greatest mystery I’ve ever experienced.

There are a certain kind of tears that I have been avoiding. I have mentioned this several times and, until losing Carl, I did not know there could be such an extravagant difference between the tears of profound grief and those that reach even deeper. You see, I have done my fair share of crying. I understand the great need for letting grief flow through me. So that I can heal. So that I can experience this fully. So that I might be made whole, both now and moving forward. But there is a certain place of tears that I have not been ready for. They will come. It’s unavoidable. But the tears that I flounder to prepare myself for, the tears that I sometimes must avoid…they are a place of God. They are the tears that reach all the way to heaven. They are a place of such extreme depth and BIGNESS that only angels can bear the expansiveness of it. It is the tears of great Love. I am too frail for this. Surely, going there will break me. To cry from that place is to experience God. Completely. It is no wonder that it’s written:

“You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live.” ~Exodus 33:20

And so my grief is paced like the tides. My tears come often, sometimes in dry wracking sobs and other times in fat watery drops. And then there are those moments that I just need to bolster myself to the weight or numbness of things, doing whatever it takes to hold myself to some form of steady. Other times I smile or talk, eat or even walk in a way that resembles something of a normal person. Teetering somewhere between vastness and being held, day and night, time and space, sun and moon, heaven and earth, ebb and flow.

The photo is one that I took last night. An outrushing tide. My heart being sucked out to sea, but also an old friend at my side.

And so we make our way, however precariously. My dearest Carl, I love you. Thank you for bringing me so close to God.

{originally published Dec 7, 2014}

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