I’m feeling a great deal of relief now that Christmas is over with. Like I dodged a big bullet or something. I’m not sure why I’m feeling this, not sure what I thought might happen. I suppose it seemed like a time for hiding–and I did hide, sort of. I paid little attention to all the holiday goings on, didn’t get inundated with festive images or song, didn’t participate in the traditional act of exchange. And, as a result, the holiday eased on by, with about as much fanfare as President’s Day.
What I did do, though, was spend a lot of time beachcombing, something that’s particularly hard for me to do alone–and even more difficult when I’m with someone. The coast is a pretty special place for me and was a place of great importance to me and Scott. Now when I go there I feel pangs of lonliness and this great want to walk out into the waves, to get swallowed by the surf and merely float away.
Instead, though, I just walked along the edge of the surf, poking at clam beds, listening to the way the ocean never quiets, and thinking.
I did a lot of thinking. A lot of reflecting. And sometimes the wind would wrap itself around my shoulders like a big strong arm, holding me up, keeping me in that space where the only thing that existed was the ocean. Everything else was far, far away. I could have walked forever.
But I didn’t.
Each time I came back, soaked with memories and wanting things to be different.
And in those days at the beach, when I wasn’t out walking, feeling Scott’s absence or the guilt and awkwardness of not being back in the south, I read Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. Never has a book spoken to me on such a personal level. I wished I could write my experience as plainly and honstely as she did hers. I wished I could get close enough to those moments, past the rawness of it all to get it on paper. It’s work I’ve been trying to do for the past couple months but just can’t. I’m still journaling in second person, to keep myself safe, distanced from all those sharp, intense feelings.
We all experience grief in different ways. This I know. But the way we see the world, I think, is similar. The world changes, it morphs into something else, something that seems like a far away place. I suppose now that I could bring this entry full circle. I could tell you that grief is like living at the ocean, on the edge of things, where the tide changes the landscape over and over, where you can feel the absence of so many things, you can feel entirely alone, where reality is drowned out by the constant churn of the waves.
And Christmas at the ocean–this Christmas at the ocean–I guess I just don’t have the words to articulate how it felt.