When the clock struck midnight on New Years, I was standing on the freezing beach in Delaware under the brightest moon glowing on the bundled faces of Mom and Dad, Mackenzie, Rickie, Kyle and Kelly. And of course, Liam the black lab. I looked up at the stars and out at the darkness of the water and wondered why I felt as calm as I did about standing there alone at the same time I felt like I was slowly melting away, as though my tendons were fraying and my bones turning to sand, just like the sand I was standing on. It was like dying, the old and new mixing. I had never been there before. But when the clock struck 12 and we all screamed “Happy New Year!” they all turned in unison towards me, the moon glittering in their eyes and grabbed me all at the same time kissing my face before they kissed each others. I felt lucky that they held my bones together when I could not. Funny how true moments of crumbling are so silent and still.
I thought afterwards about what the phrase “I have your back” means. I decided upon this definition: it means that all of the people who love you place their hands upon the space most vulnerable to the world, the space you can’t see, and protect you from places that you are unable to protect yourself. The presence of those holding you giving you strength, the pressure of their hands helping to guide you onward. Even if they help, it’s you that has to move forward first. Where once my parents held my hands to steady me as a baby as I learned to walk towards them, I now feel them, and all of my people (even those who aren’t here on this plane) behind me silently supporting what none of us can see: What will be next.
As though I were glass, sand heated up and brought to shape; I change and change again. I break. I am sand once more. And then, lightening strikes for a moment and I am glass only to be broken and made anew once more.
That night Mackenzie came to my room and took my hand and said “Tonight will be hard, it will be very hard. And tomorrow is not going to feel good either. But it will get better. It will get easier. You will be fine.”
And I remember Katie saying to me on the phone; “There is joy after this. There is so much on the other side, keep going. There is joy, somewhere, out there, just waiting for you to find.”
And then I remember myself uttering a phrase in the kitchen, with the backdoor opened and the sunlight streaming in though it was so cold. “I am heartbroken. But I am not afraid.”
These days I wish I felt that sort of strength of conviction. I find fear everywhere. I also see glimpses of joy. I laugh a lot. I cry too.
What more can I do but be here? In all the glory and goriness.
Sand. Glass. Sand. Glass. Tendons torn apart and repairing, family turning towards me to place their hands on me in blessings, friends on the phone whenever I need to remember I am not forgotten, a heart so worthy of being loved still beating a morse code for the echolocation of it’s match, ligaments and nerves-delicate and strong, broken and mending. I’m letting my bones do the work.