A lot can happen in a year. It’s been one year ago today since my dear sister-mother-friend Sandy left what spiritual writer Gary Zukav calls The Earth School. She left us too soon. Perhaps, though, her soul completed its earthly mission and it was time for bigger and better things. I know that she is breathing the cleanest, purest air now, tilting her head back and emitting that laugh I loved so much.
It was more real this time. This was my final goodbye. It was a whirlwind trip. I was on the island for just under 48 hours. I did my best to soak it all in – breathe in the island air, feel the cool breeze tickle my neck, walk on the same sand she did, peruse the stores in which Sandy herself had set foot.
I bought a ton of souvenirs, evidence that I had been to Martha’s Vineyard. Would it make it more real? I didn’t know. Grasping at “stuff” was a small comfort at the time. I remember after the service was over Danny and I were in a quaint island shop. I could barely take the phone from his hands into mine to talk to one of our family friends across the miles. We all know what happens when you hold someone else’s phone up to your ear – it usually makes our hands sweat. I didn’t talk too long; holding it together in a public place after everything was over was hard. So as I talked on the phone I ended up caressing every single fabric placemat and kitchen towel I could find in that store.
The service that day at the foot of the lighthouse was perfect. I stood barefoot in the sand, a cool breeze blowing in off the water. It lifted my hair up and away from my face, a relief that I didn’t have to tuck the strands behind my ears to avoid my watery eyes. At one point during the eulogy, the waves lapping against the shore got very loud. I’m sure that it was Sandy letting us know she was there.
Danny and I scattered her ashes into the water near the island she called home.
This time when I delivered the eulogy, I was a lot more nervous, but I’m not sure why. A handful of her friends were there, as opposed to a church full of people. It was more intimate. I met people who knew her before I was even born, people who told me stories of what she was like as a young woman. One of them even said I reminded her of Sandy. I hold this compliment close to my heart.
We played the same three songs again: Lover of the Light by Mumford & Sons, Gone Gone Gone by Phillip Phillips, and Shower the People by James Taylor. As James Taylor played, Danny and I entered the water with Sandy’s ashes. He tipped the bag over, and together we released her into the water she craved and always wanted to go back to. Now, she was finally home, at peace as she was lulled out to sea by the waves that returned to their gentle rhythm. The waves knew. They knew to embrace the ashes and not put them back on shore.
One of Sandy’s friends was kind enough to bring flowers, white daisies and red roses. I never even thought to bring flowers with me; I’m so glad she did. Danny and I led the way, throwing several of them on top of the water. Everyone there soon followed, a sea of red and white floating peacefully, the roses strong yet soft, the daisies pure and light.
Danny and I stood there knee deep in the water, not caring how wet our clothes got. It was then that I finally allowed myself to release all the tears I had been holding. A few had escaped when I was in the sand, reading aloud all the lessons Sandy had taught me, but in the water my tears could mix with the sea. I was a drop of the ocean and so was Sandy.
I don’t really know what I’m even trying to say with this post today. I just know that I needed to write.
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