“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.”
― Arundhati Roy, The Cost of Living
My mother would spend entire days down at the beach watching waves, birds, and people. She’d come home smelling like salt air and seagulls with tales of eagle attacks and the people she watched on the beach. She watched one family enjoying the beach before gathering near the water and yell “Goodbye Sookie” into the wind while scattering Sookie’s ashes into the cold Cannon Beach waves. Mom had been ill for a very long time and we had had many conversations about her wishes, this act of celebration at the ocean is how she wanted her ashes scattered when the time came.
I picked July 12 and 13, negative beach tides for the family to meet in Cannon Beach and say goodbye. Negative beach tides in Cannon Beach are nothing short of magical and Mom loved them. However, we are not a “Goodbye Sookie” kind of family. We are the only get together in small controlled groups to avoid the implosion kind of family and maybe keep those to a once or twice a decade type thing to be on the safe side kind of family. One can hope for the best.
I always feel closest to my Mom when I am by the water, watching the waves and the birds. I felt such overwhelming peace as I watched the sunset, listened to the violin and the drums, and set my one of 6000 lanterns into the water at the Lantern Ceremony of Hawaii. The light of the lanterns are intended to guide the way for your loved one’s spirits….humans come from water, so the lanterns represent their bodies returning to water. Momma would have loved and approved of the whole thing.
And I felt like I had that quiet moment that my mind needed. I am really good in crisis mode – power of attorney for hospitals, life flights, strokes, treatment decisions, rehab, therapists, sister being delay in surgery while Mom was in rehab, averted brain surgery, hospice, coffee ground emesis, cheyne stroking, helping clean and pack, arranging for cremation, and family drama this past year – I can do that all in autopilot. But my ability to handle anything in crisis mode comes at a cost of numbness afterwards that I still struggle with.
And so I surround myself with people who make me laugh. I surround myself with people who know that life is too short so they choose happiness. I surround myself with friends who have become family. As someone wiser than I said, feeling blessed and thankful to be surrounded by great people.
“There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad, and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. “
― José N. Harris