A prose poem and a watercolor I painted as I process the loss of my father, visiting the beach where he spent so many happy days:
Bright red rose petals surprise me, peeking out from the dark matted seaweed, drying on the beach.
Only a few days ago, we stood at the edge of the water, looking out on the still bay at sunset. Flinging magnificent roses, many red and one white, from the funeral arrangements, one by one into the gently lapping waves, chanting a sanskrit hymn of offering and release.
Tonight, I slide the kayak into the water, shallow at low tide. The sun has turned fiery pink as it settles towards the tree lined horizon. I head out into the waves, salt air blowing softly on my face.
The lonely mooring ball bobs in the waves. It hasn’t been reunited with its sailboat all season. I slowly turn the kayak and encircle it, watching the pink reflection of the dying sun rays shining like a glowing heart on its surface. It patiently awaits to provide its stable anchor to a sailor who will come no more.
Tears surge up from the sadness of loss. From the mooring ball, I can see the beach, and the grey wooden house on stilts, with its porch overlooking the peaceful sea and the phragmites marshes, already humming with crickets’ night song. A perfect painting it would be, of so many happy days.
I lay my paddle down across the kayak and lean back to gaze at the rosy sun and the reddening sky as it dips behind the treetops. Already the waves have carried me far from the bobbing ball as I drift in their relaxed embrace. Gazing at that golden blush that lightens into the palest of blues. Deepening shades of purples and pinks, I tried yesterday to capture in watercolors, until the first streetlights switched on, glowing brightly in the darkening of dusk. Such ineffable moments – so fleeting, so beautiful, so full of fading. How is it that the awareness of exquisite beauty arising from the deep trials of love alternates so effortlessly into the awareness of exquisite pain? Like the rhythmic rising and falling of the waves, a single energy moving through the water and stirring it.