When a tide ebbs, it flows back, revealing the things that were hidden underneath the strong, dark waters. We miss the ocean that was there, because it was our playground. It was the place we went for solace,that would welcome us with open arms anytime we needed a swim in the surf. It was comforting …those waters, with their tremendous strength. However, as the cycle goes, they must recede. The tired waves recognize the pull of the Earth, that shift in gravity, that pulls them home. We mourn, but then we look and we see. We see the beautiful shells we didn’t know where there; we see creatures we hadn’t seen in years. We see the foundation of the ocean floor, and realize how much deeper the beauty lies.
I recently lost my grandfather, one I was quite close to. I have been mourning every day for him. I console myself with the typical sentiments…he’s in a better place…he doesn’t have to hurt anymore. However, it doesn’t heal my selfish heart that wants him here. Today I started to realize though, the gifts we get from the circle of life, that tempers the sting just bits, the best it can anyway.
I thought back on the last week, how I’ve done things I havent in years, and seen people from the far past. I sat in my grandmother’s living room floor while my young cousin braided my hair. I made a picture board of my grandfather with another. I hugged fourth cousins, and cried with people I’d unfairly deemed stoic. I saw in the souls of family members, and heard stories of Papaw’s character I’d never known before. I saw some of the people who even came before him, walking in with their canes to pay their respects. I saw his forerunners, and his successors. I saw his foundations, and his legacy. I saw my grandfather without his presence, and I saw myself.
I may never feel those strong arms around me again, the ones I thought could re-route a hurricane; however, I will carry his strength forever. I am one of those shells revealed when the ocean pulled back. I am the legacy, and the one in charge of delivering his strength to future generations. He is in the pieces of my flesh, strands in my DNA, and stories in my writings. He is in a locket to never be opened around my neck, and he is a patch on the quilt I’m destin to weave. He is a huge leg of my journey that I haven’t quite run.
All of our tides will ebb, and we will all retreat to the dust we came from. However, we share the fact we are all part of the circle. I will one day go somewhere he’s paved the way, which is what he was doing for me all along. I suppose this was just his last tired step, because his waves were weary from breaking. I will console myself knowing I am strong enough to let him ebb. I will let him live here, on a writer’s page, in a young woman’s bones, and on the tongues of my future generations.
For Papaw, with love.