When my brother passed away in May, a friend of mine and her son scattered flowers into the sea for him. I was so grateful for this beautiful gesture and decided that I would do the same for my brother who passed away on Monday.
Yesterday morning was my brother’s funeral, and the whole night was excruciatingly painful for me. Not only was the pain of losing this brother painful in itself, it brought back, and was compounded, with the loss of my other brother in May. I don’t remember falling asleep, but upon waking, I decided to walk to the beach, flowers in hand, to spend some time in solitude.
He loved Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”, and as I sat at the beach, this song played in my head. I cried at the pain of losing him and my other brother. When I felt ready to, I found a spot on the shoreline and watched the waves. What happened next was an unanticipated meditation exercise.
I believe that the answers to everything can be found in nature. Nature, although imposed upon by humanity, moves and exists in rawness and truth. With all my pain, I observed what was happening as I slowly walked toward the waves.
As the cold Pacific Ocean hit my feet, I couldn’t help but feel jarred awake and into my body. I watched the ocean rush towards me and pull back into itself. As the ocean pulled back, the sand under my feet began to shift. If I stood in the same place long enough, I would lose my balance. So each time the ocean waves pulled back, I moved to a new place.
As I watched the waves come and go, and as I slowly moved to new places in the sand, I began to throw flowers, one by one, out into the ocean. I took long pauses between each flower being thrown so as to watch how the ocean interacted with it. What I noticed was that it was the calmest waves that carried the flowers furthest out. The bigger waves brought the flowers back to me. When this happened I would pick it up, walk towards the waves, and wait for a calm wave to approach before throwing it out again.
To me this was a teaching moment. The waves represent life. As life moves, one must keep moving as well. If I try to stay in one place (try to maintain the illusion of control i.e. doing things “my way”), the sands will shift from under me and I will lose my balance and fall. But if I keep moving, I stay standing, and in synch with life. The biggest waves (emotional upheaval) brings memories back. This is just how it is. It is painful, and when things have settled some, the healing takes place, and memories are carried out.
The beach has warning signs stating that there are “Changing Conditions”. This is all too true. In the midst of calm seas, a rogue wave may come (seemingly out of nowhere) and with it old memories may come. I must be with it. I must meet the wave and yield to the shifting sand as I step to new footing. This is living life in all it’s pain and beauty. Learning to be yielding and proactive.
These are the things the ocean taught me this morning, as I grieved loss.