TODAY MARKS THE third anniversary of the day I died. The setting sun skates across the water surrounded by the orange sky streaked with alternating layers of blue and white and yellow. The water is still and calm with only tiny rolls of waves washing upon the shore. If I looked far enough, I can see her standing at the end of the universe. I can feel her presence close by. I can hear her sweet singing voice next to me. How many times have I imagined what it would be like if I saw her again? Soon, now. Soon.
I walk sideways along the shore where the water meets the sand, farther and farther from any sign of life. Away from judgment, from condemnation. From things that remind me of the mess I’ve made. My hands are full, my steps are heavy. But my heart… it’s open. It’s free. I’ve done what I could to apologize for all the hurt I’ve caused them. I’ve said the words to tell him just how much I love him. Without me, I know they will all be forced to move on.
I stop in the middle of nowhere, ready to finish what I came here to do. In my left hand is one single flower. A calla lily. Simple and understated, but meaningful. In my right hand is a little box with breathing holes and a chirping sound emanating from it.
Let me sit down for a while, I say to myself. Collect my thoughts. Remember why I’m here.
I sit for what feels like hours, but in the scheme of things, I know that it’s only for a minute. Slowly, I open the box with the bird in it. The swallow, so tiny, but whose wings are strong and powerful, cowers along the edge of the box, shaking and afraid. I take a deep breath and touch its head with my little finger. Is that what a feather feels like? I’m shaking. I’m sick. I don’t think I can do it. How can something so small scare me so much? How can something as docile, as insignificant as a bird, cause me to change my path every time I come across it? Another deep breath as I lift it gently, my fingers lightly enclosing it before I place it on the palm of my hand. Its scraggy little feet feel like pin pricks on my skin.
There. That wasn’t so bad now, was it?
I laugh out loud as I raise my arm up in the air, tossing the bird up high, watching it fly far away from me. Ha! Take that!
The tide creeps up. The tiny box washes away as I stand up to complete my journey.
The water is dark. My feet feel cold. With the flower clasped in my hand, I move forward. Slowly, surely. I step upon the sand until I can no longer see my feet.
I flinch and jump up in surprise. Something rubs against my legs. Seaweed wraps around my toes. I close my eyes and keep moving. My last fear. Fear of the bottomless unknown that is part of every life. This will be over soon.
Beyond my comfort zone and into the ocean I go. Deeper and deeper until the tide pushes me forward and my feet can no longer anchor themselves on the sand.
I close my eyes and pray. I pray for forgiveness, but most of all I pray for those who will be left behind.
As the tide carries me further away, I delight in the numbness that the cold brings to my skin. The muffled sound of the water in my ear. The overwhelming, heartfelt feeling of closure.
Floating, floating, floating away filled with so much peace.
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