I’ve peered over the edge of life at death, wobbling between the known and the unknown.
In my early 40s a cancer diagnosis dropped out of the sky and knocked me into a year of surgery, chemo and radiation. My heart carried the weight of the surgeon’s words, “I’m so sorry – this is a very bleak prognosis.” I couldn’t see a place for my plans or my hopes.
Still, I kept living. The chemo nurses, the oncologist, the radiologist all told me stories of patients who survived and surprised them. They were brave enough to look me in the eye and believe. My counselor, my friends, family and colleagues surrounded me with encouragement, optimism and grace along with a generous helping of realism. Gradually I let go of the heavy prognosis and reached for Emily Dickinson’s “thing with feathers that perches in the soul.” The little bird of hope warmed my battered spirit and relit my eyes.
Nearly two decades later, I see every sunrise as a small piece of the future, gifted to me – the surprising survivor.
I’m posting photos of the beach because it’s one of my favorite places. It is so alive. The sand is different every day. The wind keeps me guessing. The water is every shade of blue and green, ever swirling back and forth. Gulls plead and bicker and huddle and hunt. Slashes of seaweed arrive with the tide. Fog slinks along abruptly engulfing huge crags of rock in a cascade of grey cotton. No wonder that on my last trip, when I took these photos, I looked out along the shore and saw a lone walker suddenly start clapping and jumping and laughing into the blustering gusts. It was a classic case of beach overdose.
The beach entreats my lungs to breathe deeply and feel her salty spirit. To remember that every day is a new birthing of time. For me, it is a place of restoration, to refresh my little bird. A place to be alive.