For a moment time stood still. I gazed at the rippling sea, the womb of my spiritual birth. The place I felt my soul was reborn from, calling me into her arms to heal my ragged wounds, to wash away the uncertainty and fear of the previous year. The sky before me was awash with the soft colors of dawn. The water, a silky gunmetal grey of early morning, oily quicksilver kissed with hues of mauve, and amber. I was frozen in a second of time, a moment in between the pages of a new chapter of my life. No sound, just a surreal shimmer of this view before my eyes.
The lightest touch upon my cheek brought me to the surface of my consciousness, a breath of wind whispered in my ear. Slowly sound returned as though lifting my head out of calm water so that a rush of air suddenly filled the quiet space.
The sea tumbled and swirled to caress the shoreline with its salty touch. The soft clicking of crabs excavating sand out of their holes and onto the endless beach. Slowly a myriad of patterns appeared, etchings upon the surface of the sand, created with balls they industriously rolled up and pushed away.
I had waited for that moment for a year and a half, to stand on that shore; the one place that I could begin to cast away the clinging stress and anxiety. Tears streamed down my face as I began to walk into the water with my board clutched under my arm. My shoulders shook and my stomach contracted as I cried like never before. Water swirled around my waist as I waited for a break between the sets of waves. I paddled through the whitewash, sputtering as I tried to control my breathing and duck diving my way through until at last I paddled into calm water behind the break.
I was filled with a torrent of emotions. The feeling of sheer joy at being in the Pacific, of lying on my board and about to ride the waves rolling in beneath me. Yet at the same time, I felt so frail and wounded that I just needed to sit, watching the fish shimmer beneath my feet and welcome the comforting embrace of the tropical sea.
My husband, at 31years old, was diagnosed with cancer the year before. We did not know the severity for the first few weeks, and life jerked to shocking halt. My heart went into lock down, my actions into survival mode. We were lucky to find the tumor in an easy to see place beneath his jaw, like a cherry caught in his throat. It was perched in his lymph nodes, yet thankfully was still isolated from the rest of his body. How strange to think that only day’s before he had been rock climbing with a friend, feeling the power of the mountains and within his own body.
He did not feel sick in any way, and yet the thought of having to check into the cancer centre to make himself more ill than ever in his life, seemed against nature itself. He spent five months in treatment, a year fighting for his life. Both of us caught in a test of mortality. So full of smiles and hope, he would make the other patients laugh, and the nurses want to be around him. He held his head high and only once or twice faltered under the cloak of darkness.
His treatment was successful, and he is healthy for now. We were in Panama to heal our minds and hearts and find comfort in the thought that we may sneak a few more days together. To perhaps buy a month or a year or hopefully sixty before we say goodbye.
My tears were that of a child who has had a difficult lesson, and at the same time, being ones of absolute joy that we made it that far. Those tears were all the ones I wanted to shed when I thought I had to be strong, in the water they tore out of my body in wracking sobs. Yet even as I cried I had joy welling up within me. Looking around at the beauty of the tropics the darkened space filled with wonder, and the ecstasy of being alive.
There I was renewed, beneath the vast and gorgeous sky, with a pelican soaring low over the waves in search for its breakfast. I dove under the water and off my board squealing and wiggling like a dolphin being born. I rolled under water with my eyes open and gazed in wonder at the shimmering surface, my bubbles bursting into perfect expanding rings.
The words “I am here, I am home” echoed in my mind. I erupted through the surface, breathing in the salty air, and looking toward the beach. My husband was there, gazing south and watching the light grow brighter. He stood in quiet reflection, hardly as emotional as I.
I thought, “ It will be a long time before he can allow the reality of his new health to wash over him, to begin the journey of his own emotional healing”.
He would not dare to dream much into the future; he would guard his intricate web of emotions well. Yet for that moment, he was celebrating his recent win.
He smiled and waved, knowing me so well, he had given me time to greet the sea alone. With his gaze I buried the remaining swell of emotions and my surfers mind took over. I paddled towards the shore, my body changing from a weeping and fragile mess to a strong and powerful surfer.
While catching my first and beautiful wave, sliding down a glassy face, feeling the speed and power of the ocean, I yelled with pleasure at the exhilaration of it. The shimmering golden light highlighting the shape of the wave in front of me, as I carved towards the rising sun. My husband paddled out as I pulled off, dropping into the water beside him. We grabbed each other’s hands with twinkling eyes and huge smiles. There, together, we began the new chapter of our lives.