Inscrutable Grief

beach dawn dusk ocean
Photo by Sebastian Voortman on

My toes feel the sand as it oozes through the gaps, a sludge of water and sand. The debris the waves deposit and pull back from the shore sometimes grazes my naked calf. I don’t quite like the sensation, or the imagination my mind conjures. It feels like someone is churning the ocean, generating ripples, gentle at times, angry at others. The salt in the air stings my eyes. The sand when it hits my feet as a rogue waves slaps at me feels like a personal affront.

It is early in the morning, pre-dawn, the dark a cloak that envelops me and possibly one other person in a one mile stretch along the shores.

I gingerly walk back to the cold sand that is packed and firm enough to hold my weight before it crumbles as I walk. On a higher ledge, I am acutely aware of how cold everything is outside the water.

Sunrises are profound. They take time. They require patience. The horizon lightens gradually until the predawn light bathes everything in a heavenly glow. The sun appears as a tint at the bottom, a bright speck that bubbles into a circle that grows in a span of minutes to an orange orb. The rays of light touch and skim the surface of the water as it hits my eye.

It is a special thing, this experiencing of nature in solitude. I stand at the shore wondering about the men and women in the centuries before me standing at the very spot, feeling overwhelmed by the majesty of the sunrise. I suspect not much has changed since humans walked the earth. It is a time when more earthy concerns flee the mind only to be replaced by wonderment at this existence. It borders on the sublime, the searching for answers to the Who Am I? Who Are We? Why Are We Here?

It makes me wonder about the unborn and the dead. Today it reminded me of Appa. Thirteen years ago today, he shed his mortal coil. I wonder if his spirit is hovering, watching. I wonder if his soul is now part of another person experiencing life as I stand at the shore thinking about him. I wonder if there is anything past the last breath. Today, unlike other anniversaries, I don’t strain to remember his face or my life with him as his daughter. My thoughts are different, it is about him but also about the bigger questions of life, death, and memory.

Grief is inscrutable. Some years it is acute, a physical shedding of the pain through tears and a heaviness that refuses to lighten. This year it is light, a constant awareness of the gift of life. A cognizance stemming from knowing he was loved while he lived.

I walk back to my family when the Sun is a fiery ball illuminating everything with white light. I squint one last time before I turn, capturing a couple on the beach silhouetted against the fierce light. The gift of time is all that is on my mind, an intense thankfulness for being alive, for everything in my life as is.

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