“That’s not why I came,” he said, cradling my face tenderly in his warm hands. I felt them there on my cheeks so viscerally, despite the fact that at that very moment I was sitting entirely alone on the rocky Maine shore.
When I first moved out of the home my husband and I had created together, I felt a sense of relief. We rarely fought, even toward the end of our time together, but there was so much tension. Pushing feelings of anger and sadness inward can wreak havoc on the body and mind. We were not living a healthy existence. So when I moved out, for the first few months my predominant emotion was relief. It was as if I had been holding my breath, and finally I could come up for air.
Relief was followed by grief.
Divorce is not unlike a death. I mourned the loss of the life I had expected to have. I grieved for myself and for my husband, and most of all I grieved for my children. This wasn’t how things were supposed to be, not for us. Not for them. At times the sense of sheer disorientation was excruciating.
Although I knew the only way for us was forward, the unknown was scary. I felt so lost. That’s when I turned to meditation.
Keith, a childhood friend of mine, is a meditation teacher. He’s the kind of peaceful meanderer who will gladly accept fresh garden veggies and eggs from strangers in lieu of payment at his classes, and who loves nothing more than to teach others the gift that changed his life.
He eagerly agreed to come to my house once a week to teach a class. I gathered a small group of friends, and we learned how to meditate. I had some beautiful experiences with that group, by the warm fire in my little cottage.
Unfortunately, once we stopped meeting as a group, my practice fell away, as things do when you don’t give your energy to them.
That summer, my friend invited me to join her on an impromptu stay in a little Airbnb beach shack. Knowing what I needed (as moms do), my mother offered to take the girls for a few days, and she encouraged me to go. It was just the two of us, Monica and me. The place was tiny and barebones. Blissfully, there was nothing to do but be.
One morning I got up early and walked around a nearby cove. It was so peaceful and quiet, only the sound of the gently lapping waves and the calls of the seagulls to keep me company. I’m not sure what compelled me to do it, but I found myself sitting in a meditation pose right there on the beach, though it had been months since I’d last tried.
I closed my eyes and I breathed deeply. I used one of the guided meditations I had learned in class. I imagined I was in a one room house on a beach, with a floor made of sand. The windows and doors were open, and a strong breeze blew the white linen curtains. Each time a “thought” entered my head, I imagined it being blown out the windows. I sat there a while, blowing things out – reminders, regrets, grocery lists…
Then, without fanfare, there he was – sitting with me in the sand. A man I had loved deeply – a lifetime ago. He had truly not crossed my mind in ages. This was not a conscious conjuring.
What happened next came through me, but not from me.
There we sat in the sand, he and I, in the house with a sand floor and white linen curtains dancing around our heads. Our fingers intertwined, and our foreheads gently pressed together as we leaned into each other. I felt completely calm, centered. When we pulled away to look at one another, I tried to kiss him. I realized I had missed him all this time.
“No,” he said, shaking his head gently, “That’s not why I came.”
I became aware that we were not alone. A woman was standing quietly in the corner of the room. She gave me a look that let me know it was okay; she had wanted him to come. I understood –
She had brought him there for me, but he was hers.
He cradled my face in his hands and he said, “I came to tell you that I think you are so brave. You are so much stronger than you think you are. You are going to be just fine.”
I felt a flood of relief. I knew he was right.
I could feel the tears streaming down my face as my mind came back into my body; into the present moment. When I opened my eyes, through my tears I saw this perfect heart nestled among the rocks where I sat.
Three years later, I still have that stone, and I still know…
I am brave.
I am stronger than I feel sometimes,
and above all,
I am going to be just fine.
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