Last week I told my therapist that I feel like I’m just treading water, constantly. It’s so much work to keep my head above the dark ocean beneath me. I see no sandbars I can swim to; I see no ships on the horizon that might come to save me. I just keep moving my arms and legs, and focus on breathing, surviving one more day.
Today a friend phrased a question that fit well with that metaphor. She mentioned doing what she could to stay out of the “ocean of grief.” I told her I would give her water wings for her birthday. Comfortable ones!
I also told her that I’d write her a blog post. Yet now that I’m in front of my computer screen, I don’t know what to say. Do I even have water wings?
Maybe I should have said a life jacket, so she could truly rest from the struggle to keep her head above water. I don’t even have a life jacket to keep myself afloat.
What words can I conjure to make life less of a struggle for any of us, when even I don’t know why I try so hard to keep my head above water?
All I have is my own struggle, my own journey to survival. I too tread water in a vast ocean of grief. It’s all I know.
Sometimes I start to give up. If I lose hope in my heart, I lose my strength to tread water any longer. My arms and legs relax and for a moment I slip under the surface. It feels good to let go and rest. I exhale and let myself sink.
But then, just before darkness comes, my mind wakes up, one with my body, both screaming for air. I kick and flail until I reach the surface again, taking deep gulps of the salty sea air. Oh, oh, AIR!
Without me thinking about it, my arms and legs get back into the rhythm of treading, cycling around me. My body fights to stay alive. My heart keeps beating. I keep sucking in air.
Dear Marnie, our lungs are our water wings. They fight for air even when our minds give up. They fight and fight and fight. When it gets too hard to be so alone in that ocean of grief, focus on breathing. Just breathing.
The current brought us together in an ocean larger than we can see or comprehend. Rest your head on my arm. We’ll take turns.