My sister was my best friend, my partner in crime, and in many ways, the love of my life.
I knew I wanted to write of her, to speak of her today, to relate in words the depths of her richness, her grace, her beauty; but alas, my head was full of the static shock of her death.
Thus, I sought out the healing, calming force of an old friend, an old mother, the Ocean. It was late yesterday afternoon, a rainstorm made the breeze cold on my face, the sand wet on my feet, and I zipped my freshly purchased Ron Jon’s hoodie and tried to get myself comfortable. I walked, rubbed my arms, pulled up the hood and tied it, all to no avail. There was a chill in the air and I could find no comfort. Thick peels of clouds striped the sky, the sun blotted out among them. For several minutes I watched these fat white and purple ribboned clouds, gauging their direction, and saw that they moved eastward, in such a manner as to keep the sun hidden behind their infinite trails. Perhaps better, I thought, shuffling my bare feet in the damp sand, to just pack it up and head home.
And yet. There is always the chance of a mischievous little miracle, giggling, awaiting the perfect moment for a grand entrance. The wind shifted upon my face. Marching orders had changed from somewhere above, and with one glance up I watched the army of clouds turn southward, and the liberated sun shone down upon me. I knew in that moment how deeply I was loved, and I knew who was loving me; the mischievous little miracle that was Noelle.
And thus, we sat together, or rather, she enveloped me, in ocean and sand and sun and sky. I asked her, like a child upon a knee, to tell me a story, and she whispered “Sit down, watch the ocean, and I shall show you a story, a story of life.”
And so I watched.
There were pelicans, riding air currents, gliding inches above the water, then circling, scouting, and diving for a delicious meal of unlucky fish. Both nourishment and death in one fell swoop, opposites collapsing into each other.
There were cruise ships, gleaming white and mighty, each boasting of celebration; fun and festivity and fruity umbrella drinks.
There were couples freshly in love, walking and laughing and holding hands. There were couples long past freshly-in- love, prosaic yet peaceful, held together by commitment and effort, newness and novelty replaced with depth and understanding. All good stuff.
There were seashells. Beautiful, glistening, intricately designed, abandoned little homes, artifacts of times passed, the adornments and artful handiwork of the sea herself.
And then, in the center of this masterpiece, echoing through the cacophony of activity surrounding them, were the waves, the juncture for that which is above and that which is below.
The wave is an exquisitely beautiful and utterly unique phenomena. Like snowflakes, no two are the same. Some are raging, others soft and sweet. Some are good for playing in, some are dangerous for playing in, and some are both. The wave expresses itself as art in motion, with frothy caps and dancing sprays or thundering white fists pounding the sand, and always it comes rolling with its own energy, its own unique signature upon the shoreline. Each wave leaves a little something behind when it lands, a little sand, a little seaweed, perhaps some shells, secrets of the ocean given to the care of the shore for a time, and as each wave slowly loses its energy, flattens and recedes back into its source, it takes a little something with it, a few secrets return to their watery origins.
And in these quiet, contemplative moments, sitting with my sister on the beach, I saw that we humans are as the waves are. Each of us an exquisitely beautiful and utterly unique phenomena.
And all around us, this life is happening. The beauty and death of it all, the romance, the celebration, the mundane, the abandoned, the emptied, the intricately crafted, the loved, the forgotten, we are surrounded by all these things. They reach out and touch us and shape us as we thunder and roll to the shore, on this journey we call life on earth.
The wave takes only temporary form. For only the briefest of moments, the wave holds the illusion of being separate from the ocean. But in those briefest of moments it creates its dance, crafts its twists and turns and tumbles, orchestrates its own crashing music, explodes upon the shore leaving its own unique mark upon the sand, and then the wave returns to its source, never to be distinguishable as that wave ever again.
In the same way, we are here for only the briefest of moments, holding the illusion of being separate from God. The human form is fleeting, a trifle in universal concerns, a temporary encumbrance of spirit perhaps. But also an enormous privilege and freedom. For the unknown time that we are in body, we have the incredible gift of self-expression, of individuality, of roaring to the shore on our life journey in whatever manner we choose. We are art in motion. The beauty and magic and despair and tragedy of humanity are captured in our art, in our dance, in the waves of our lives. We give a little. We take a little. And in the end, we recede from form, return to source, return to God.
I stared out upon the horizon and saw my sister in the playful ocean, in the vibrant blue sky, in the sweet beeming sun. I saw her everywhere, just as I saw God everywhere. There was no distinction. She was home, and she was whole, unencumbered, and utterly, completely joyous.
In human form, she was the most tender-hearted, accepting, loving, and beautiful person I have ever known. There never has been, nor will there ever be, a smile such as hers. She completed a side of me that I do not have. She filled in my blank spaces. She colored my emptiness, she delighted my heart and eased my mind. She was my medicine, my magic, my love.
In her memory I shall craft the most beautiful wave. I will be brave for her, I will be giving, I will be daring for healthy risks, I will be wise, I will be kind. I will look up to her and let her love shine down upon me, and when I feel her I shall fall to my knees and bow my head to that which I love so dearly. I have faith, sister.
You are one of the best things that ever happened to me. How precious you are. What will I do without you? Only one thing. I shall hold you in my heart and live every day a better person than I was the day before. My final signature in the sand shall be as beautiful as I can craft it, and I craft it for you.
I love you.