Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | February 13, 2011

a repost from last year: Flotsam and Jetsam, a Valentine message

This was written a year ago, before I found hearts every single day. Back then, it was an occasion of mystery and wonder. It still is. But now I wonder every day, instead of just once in a while.

An unexpected work assignment out by Scarborough marsh disrupted my plans the other day, February 13th, and made it evident, since we had to be there already, that the dog and I should head to the beach.

The wide sands of Scarborough Beach beckoned at half tide, strangely deserted on a nearly-warm, clear, winter Saturday afternoon. Once we were there, I suddenly became convinced that there would be an unmistakable valentine message from Jeff, gone from this world almost seven months now. [ed. note: Ugh, that makes it almost nineteen months now.]  I had just been telling friends how “we never did Valentine’s Day”, but this notion of a missive came into my mind unbidden. Don’t know from whence it came, or why.

These thoughts trouble me; I am finding them to be exceedingly common among the widowed, this underground community into which I have been thrust. There are signs and symbols into which we who are grieving read so much, details which most others in a typical daily routine would simply not see, or if seen, would not acknowledge. Is it because the veil between the living and the dead is so thin to us here in this place, or are we simply weak and crazy, grasping at any straw of invented significance?

Logically, I am not convinced that there are signs from the other side, and had never in my life given any credence to this concept. Until now, of course, when I see signs everywhere. The one thing I know for sure is that we don’t know everything for sure. I am dubious: is this willingness to believe proof of our temporary insanity, a desperate attempt to make sense of what cannot be made reasonable, as Buddhist teachings say: to accept even that which is unacceptable? Are they myriad easily explainable coincidences that any clearly thinking person would simply dismiss? Or are most people overlooking the strange beauty of meaningful serendipity and we grief-stricken are the lucky ones? My rational mind chews on these ideas while my heart continues to see symbols in everything. Think about this too much and become immobilized. Sometimes a cigar is just a smoke. Or is it?

However, there I was on the beach, somehow knowing innately that there was a message to be found. There were so many caches of special rocks, shells, driftwood bits, tangled nets, detritus of all kinds, it was hard to discern which was meant for me. I walked the length of the beach with the dog, he running ahead, lagging behind, always sniffing, splashing. It often seems that he sees or feels things that I cannot. He is sometimes alarmed or restive when I don’t see a cause. At least he doesn’t seem to spend so much time searching for his master anymore…breaking my heart anew each time.

I had felt all along that whatever the message or the medium, it would make itself known to me clearly, unequivocally. Then I found it. I laughed out loud, alone on the beach. There it was, so obvious – a heart shaped, ten pound chunk of blood-red speckled granite. I can’t help thinking -That is so like him! I had thought, hoped even, maybe there would be a demure, smooth, polished, black or white stone, perhaps with a “wishing ring” of contrasting color, to slip into my pocket and secretly fondle. But no, that is my style, not his. He would make it big and bold and something I would have to lug home with both hands and use forever after as a doorstop. And so he did. And so it is. And so I did, and so I will.

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