I stare at my reflection, mouth gaping open. This couldn’t be me, right? But it is. It is me. I kneel on the edge of Peace and lean closer to the water. My fingers tap at Ocean and it echoes with ripples that sparkle in the morning light. Or is that light from all that’s new in me?

“You’ve seen it then?”

I jump at the sound of Aneta’s voice, but have no chance to reply. Aneta always has so much to say.

“You’ve finally seen the life in your eyes. Oh, Maryn! That changes everything! Because when you finally see the life in your eyes, then you can finally see life well.”

I nod my head at Aneta’s voice, not fully grasping what it means to see life with life-filled eyes. But Aneta is proof that life-eyes are real and true. She defies this wilderness of waves with her vibrancy and passionate enjoyment of each day.

“How’s she doing?” Aneta nods in Stella’s direction, and I explain all that happened just a few hours ago.

Aneta is quick to reply, “Well, Stella is a pretty name. I almost wish it were mine, but if I had Stella’s name then I’d have Stella’s life and only Stella can live Stella’s life. And well, she’s doing the best she can. That’s plain as day. Evident just by looking at her. And her gentleness and resilience. Can you see that? It may be broken in two, but it’s there.”

Truth is I can’t see anything Aneta’s talking about. I just see broken and ragged. I see a body holding on for dear life, but hating every minute of the struggle. Even with my new eyes, I can only see old things. And even though I’ve been taking care of Stella I can’t see her the way Aneta sees her.

I shake my head at Aneta. “I don’t see any of that. She just looks worn thin.”

It frustrates me that I can’t see Stella the way Aneta sees her. I have been like Stella. I have been Stella. So why can’t I see her?

“Aneta, how do I see her?”

My voice is urgent and desperate, because I have life-eyes now. . . so shouldn’t I be seeing life?

Aneta stands up and faces the sunlight, shielding her eyes to the intensity, but courageously welcoming in all the light she can.

“Oh Maryn, it’s the simplest thing. You just have to be willing.”

I am equal parts relieved and uncertain. But I let my chaotic heart find a softer beat as I wonder what being willing means.

Aneta catches fish for our breakfast while I tidy up our home on Ocean and check to see if Stella is still breathing. Her body is so thin I can almost see the outline of her heart. What kind of devastation has ripped at her body so hard that her insides are becoming her skin?

As I think about Stella’s pain instead of my own, compassion mixes with the light inside me. The emotion is foreign, but I let it reside. Clueless to all that’s going on in my heart, Aneta loudly dishes out our simple breakfast. She accompanies the task with her constant chatter.

“I think we should take turns caring for Stella throughout the day. Same as last night. Maybe, at sunset we can wake her up and help her eat soup. She needs to eat soon and, well, if we do it at sunset, at least, she’ll see something beautiful and the harshness of Ocean’s foreverness won’t be abruptly in her view. The sunset will be softer. She needs to see a gentle thing.”

Aneta’s thoughtfulness amazes me yet again. How can she have been on Ocean so long and be this kind? Shouldn’t Ocean make you bitter? Isn’t life out here more painful than anything? More lonely than one can imagine?

Yet Aneta shows me the opposite.

I have no room for this opposite kind of life. I wear alive things, yet long for my old, worn-out things. Even so the light swirling around the insides of me prompts me to welcome new things. . .things I don’t understand yet. Things like this dress of unnamed orange flowers and undeserved manzanita blossoms.

It would seem the expanse of Ocean is teaching me to make space.

Space for light.

Space for people.

Space for the opposite things to hold a lot of life.

So I make space for Stella’s pain, and I store up hope for the new flowers she will receive. I make space for the kindness of Aneta, and I hold gratitude for her there. I crack the wall protecting all my old, worn-out things, and I make space for impossibly good future things instead. Every new space in me feels uncomfortable and unruly, but I let the space take up residence anyway.

And it is here I finally understand what being willing means. It’s not mysterious or hard or unattainable.

It’s just one simple thing.

Being willing means making space.

So I do.

And my life-eyes are finally ready to see life well.

Copyright © 2019 Sierra V. Fedorko, All rights reserved.

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