April 20th, 2017
Do you want to know a secret about me? Sometimes, when I go to the beach, especially in the evenings when it's quieter and there are fewer people, and if it's a low tide where the soft darker wet sand is exposed, I write notes to my Mother. She grew up by the sea. She was born in the house her father built overlooking the ocean on Water Street in Castine, Maine. He made his living on the sea and they spent their lives in that tiny little postage stamp sized town where the Penobscot River and the Atlantic ocean meet. Needless to say, the ocean was important to my mom.
When my mom passed away, she was cremated as was her wish. We gathered as a family and sprinkled her ashes in the ocean just south of where we live now. It did not occur to me then that in abiding by her choice, there would later be no place to "visit" her. I have stopped by the place where my Dad is interred many times to "visit" him and leave flowers. Afterwards there is always a feeling of connection. Connection and peace. But I did not have a place to find that with my mother.
Honestly, until the first time I went to Patriots Plaza to "see" my Dad about a year after we lost him, I didn't even realize that I needed to find that with my parents. I had no idea how important it was until I could stop by for a chat with him but not with her. It's not as though I believe that my parents at actually present. I realize this is an inner dialogue. But having a specific place designated for that inner dialogue has somehow become important. I had it for my father but not my mother and it was, somehow, another kind of loss.
Until one day, on a whim, when Tim and I had walked to the beach to watch the sunset, as we often do. For some bizarre reason and with absolutely no thought behind it, I drew a heart in the sand, facing the water. I have no idea why I did it, but there it was. Almost immediately the water came up to cover the picture I had drawn and then it was gone. It was as if the tide took the message. And I felt it. That connectedness and peace. There it was.
I know, it's whimsical and silly and nonsensical. And yet, there it is. I cannot deny that it's there. That feeling that I was missing. So now, sometimes, when I walk to the beach in the evening or the very early morning and I have that space to myself, I write a note in the cool, wet sand and wait for the water to come back up and grab the note to deliver it to her.
Oh I fully realize how ridiculous I sound. It's not reasonable or rational, it's not scientific or logical but the thing is, I don't care. It's like wishing on a star or throwing a penny in a fountain or blowing out birthday candles so that your wish will come true. You know, sensibly that there is absolutely no real connection between any of those activities and something that you wish for coming to be, and yet we still blow out those candles.
And so, I will occasionally write those little messages in the sand to my Mother. Nothing earth shattering, just little notes. "Hi Mother", "Thinking of You Today", "I Miss You". It only takes a few moments time to write the note although upside down and backwards writing takes a moment at first and then another moment's wait for the water to retrieve the message.
And then I feel better. Now I will not for one second say that my mother responds. That would be ridiculous. She has been gone for some time. I know for a fact that all of this is my own head stuff. Well and my own heart stuff. But I will tell you that one time, for no particular reason, immediately after writing the note and watching it wash away, I took a picture of myself at the beach. When I saw the photo later, after I had walked back home, I immediately noticed a sparkle over my heart in the picture. Now I'm not saying that was my mother responding. I'm sure it was a reflection of the sun off the camera. It's logical, it's rational and I'm certain that is the fact of the matter. Still, this is one of the few photos of me that makes me smile. And now it makes me think of my Mother too.
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Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.