I wrap my arms around Aneta and listen to her scream. It pierces right through me and my ears begin to bleed. Her screams tell a story. . .a story impossible to tell with words. Aneta has spent years on Ocean. She has been lonely. . . unbelievably hurt by those who belonged in her life before Ocean. For months at a time, her mind has been attacked and left to shreds. 

Every hurting part of her has been invisible to me before now. But I see her terror in this moment. My life-eyes have opened to the parts of life that need healed and helped and held. 

Aneta–the girl who offers sunflowers and violets, plans soup for sunset, and asks about my grief–needs to be seen past the love she holds for others and the hope she shares just by being alive to life.

I help Aneta sit down, taking care that no Ocean water touches her skin. Her dry tears have made deep pathways down her face. It is the saddest I have ever seen her. . .the saddest I have ever seen anyone. 

I pick a handful of new lilies from my dress and use the petals to ease the pain marking her face. And though there is a defined map of sorrow, her eyes are still filled with life. Hope has remained through the worst of her anguish. And I know light will soon break all that’s breaking her.

But Aneta must grieve. She must make space to be human.

Ocean does hold the best of all beautiful things, but it also exposes the heartache that must be felt.

I gently nudge Aneta’s head to my shoulder. The beginning of sunset fills the sky, and I check to make sure Aneta’s eyes are open to the glorious, comforting display. Light is her favorite thing, and though she’d rather let her whole body go numb, I hold her securely to face the sunset.

Aneta’s eyelids are half shut, but I know light is getting in. While Aneta leans against me, I admire the gentle blues and differing hues of yellow and purple. The colors deepen, and I’m made breathless, because the colors are just like Aneta’s dress. Every shade is a perfect replica, every swirl and wisp, a reflection of Aneta in motion. 

I finally exhale and drink in the kindness of the evening sky. I notice Aneta’s eyes are wide open now. She sees the gift too. The map of sorrow outlining her face is accompanied by landmarks of healing and joy and otherworldly strength. 

The sunset lasts half a lifetime it seems. But I don’t mind. Aneta needs to see it. She needs to know she’s seen. I help Aneta lie down and cover her with our best seaweed blanket. She is spent and peaceful sleep washes fast over her.

I breathe in slowly and try to process this wildly hard, delicate, and lovely day. Yes, life-eyes see life well, but I didn’t know it meant I would see heartbreaking things like this. How can I explain the sadness and the hope combined? How can I put into words the terror and the triumph? 

I prepare soup for Stella while the events of the day tangle up my thoughts. Even though I’m floating on a cluster of seaweed, my life is so much bigger now than it ever used to be. Could it be possible that uncontrollable Ocean is better than a self-made Island? And will I ever see my old meadow again? I spent so many years hating it, but I’ve begun to miss the meadow that was made and meant for me. I used to sing and dance to every meadow sunrise and sunset. And each glorious song of light practically reached from the sky to touch me.

I chuckle to myself. Young Maryn isn’t even here to badger me about this, and yet I’m remembering it of my own accord. It must be all the new space I’ve been welcoming in.

The soup simmers, disrupting my thoughts. The moon is vibrant and the stars poke through the dark as I wake Stella to eat. It isn’t sunset like Aneta planned, but the air is calm, and tonight’s sky will be a gentle thing for Stella to see. 

Stella opens her eyes slowly, looking more rested and at ease than when she first arrived. 

“Hi, Stella. Are you ready for soup?” She nods yes with a smile, then looks up and takes in the soft evening sky.


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

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