Sunset bursts through the sky and glistens on the water. It has felt like minutes, but we’ve been floating in this unlikely place named Peace for hours.
Before I can drink in the colors I could never describe or verbalize, waves boil to the surface throwing me from Peace. These are not the soft waves of the shore. . .these waves feel like grief. I’m swallowed up. These waves are grief. Unwarranted. Brusque. Relentless.
The waves throw me around, and in the tossing I see Aneta still admiring the sunset on Peace. These waves were meant for me. Meant to swallow me. A part of Ocean for me alone.
Like water swirling to a drain, I’m spinning through the places I’ve been and the places I never hoped to be.
Pain masquerading as water stings my skin and pulls me under. I am forced to a depth of Ocean that causes me to grieve. The grief is so layered, so intimate that not even I can fully describe the heartache of it.
And so I drain just like the water emptying through one. I grasp my flower petal dress of dead things, because these pasty, cold hands are desperate to hold tight to anything that feels familiar. Even if it’s old and ugly.
But in these tumultuous waves, relief for my aching bones and gentle comfort to my weary soul swells beneath me. I relinquish the grasp I claim on my dead dress. Can relief and comfort belong deep in the drain of grief? Or in a place like Ocean?
As the swirling slows, I notice the dead petals from my dress are flying away like dandelion seeds.
And I can’t believe it. I could never climb out of all these dead things myself, because they were stuck to me, fitted tight against my skin. But now it’s flitting away as though it was never anchored here—on me.
The presence of Grace pokes at places long numb, and I wake up to healing on the Ocean floor. My lungs fill with fresh air as I lie here in the deepest form of pain and grief. Soon the water around me and the waves above me shoot into the edge of the sunset and plunge below the surface again. Everything is quiet, and healing holds tight.
With my head above water once more, I see Aneta is gazing upward just as before.
Without the weight of my dead flowers, I swim forward. I am hesitant to climb onto our haven of seaweed, because my old dress is gone, and I don’t know what kind of dress I’m wearing now. I am in Ocean and even with a covering of fragile healing, I am still certain that beautiful things can’t happen in the expanse of nothing.
I grit my teeth. My breathing is shallow. Grief has stripped me of everything familiar and the nightmare of Old Maryn is nothing compared to the pain I just endured.
Although healing pushes me to the surface of Ocean, I am surrounded by feelings of doubt. But I climb onto Peace. . .bracing for whatever horrible response Aneta will have to my vulnerability.
Instantly, Aneta glances away from the sunset and exclaims, “Orange flowers, Maryn! Look at your dress! It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before!”
A thousand thoughts seem to scurry through her mind, before Aneta rushes on, “Oh Maryn! The waves got you too! I thought you were here, but well, you were there. That’s Ocean for you! Unexpected and often lonely. I never even got the chance to help you, because the waves are all so different and always take us at different times. Waves never warn anyone and are silent to everyone except the person it’s taking under! But well, look at your dress, Maryn! Those flowers are alive! You look alive!”
I’ve been staring at my dress since Aneta shrieked about my orange flowers. I finger the petals, unsure what they are called. Breathtaking, every last one. Orange. Alive. I am here. I am less numb and more numb all at once.
I am full of sorrow. Orange is not a color I would have chosen or even desired in a dress for myself. I am happy. Orange is breathtaking and vibrant, and I am alive with young hope slung like a dress around my body.
I settle into Peace all over again.
I slowly sit down beside Aneta. Her dress is fuller than mine, but the thought doesn’t bother me. I am just thrilled I no longer wear a dress of dead things.
My fledgling happiness stays for mere seconds before a tiny fear of the unknown creeps into my chest. I bury my feet farther into the seaweed of Peace and stomp out the intrusion. I am here. And I am alive.
It’s mid-sunset and somehow the color in my dress seems more vibrant than the colors in the sky. I am wound tight with life, dressed expectantly in hope.
Ocean stretches far in front of me, but I keep my focus to the sky instead.
I am content to sit in silence, but Aneta places her arm around my shoulder. Her voice is gentle, so unlike her usual outbursts of happiness. “So, what was it like? Your waves of grief, Maryn?”
She must see the way my eyes have changed. The joy and sorrow present. The two living side by side but the sorrow threatening to take over. Aneta waits with understanding in her own eyes. She knows what grief is like. The waves of grief are unique and terrifying, but the way of grief has been a place for both of us.
The sunset moves to brilliant pastels and soon dusk begins to conquer the glittering surface of Ocean. Only now do I finally answer Aneta. I share about my deep terror and how the dead things I held so dear flew away.
My voice shakes as I speak, but it’s getting stronger. I feel more whole than hollow.
So I welcome what I would not choose.
I welcome orange.
I welcome Ocean.
Copyright © 2019 Sierra V. Fedorko, All rights reserved.