The Most Memorable Ask
An excerpt from The Trifecta of Joy: Help Yourself in a World of Change.
Although I did not grow up religious, I always felt a connection to something greater, but resisted the label of spiritual in any form. I feared it would in some way tie me to a belief system that would require packaging my beliefs to align with what others expected. Some of my friends even commented that I was the most “spiritual” un-religious person they’d met, and over the years I have engaged in many interesting conversations about the rules of their god versus other gods.
John, my first husband, felt the same. Just weeks before he died he had written to his home church to be removed from the registry. Not because he didn’t believe in something larger, but because he didn’t want to feel confined by that church’s version of God – and he wanted freedom from affiliation at that time in his life.
Shortly thereafter, I had my first conversation with Source.
I was sitting alone on a beach chaise, watching the moon shine on the waves as they crashed against the beach. It was just hours after I’d watched lifeguards drag John’s limp and lifeless body from the water and up onto that very sand.
That morning he had left the boys and I pool-side to go for a walk along the beach. A kiss good-bye, I love you, see you soon, and he was off for a walk while I gave Isaac, then 8 months old, the last of his bottle. Alexander was playing with balloons half-filled with water in the nearby lazy river. The day was beautiful, and we had plans to spend it relaxing poolside and just enjoy.
When I started to see staff walking unusually quickly toward the beach, I felt a niggle. When I mentioned it to another mother, she commented she hadn’t noticed. I sat, finished giving Isaac his bottle, and noticed yet another staff person seeming to walk urgently toward the beach and disappear down the stairs to the water.
My Spidey-senses were on overdrive. I knew something was wrong. I needed to know what.
I turned to the other mother again, “Mind watching Alex for a moment while I take Isaac and see what’s going on?”
“Sure” she smiled.
With Isaac balanced on my hip, we walked toward the stairs. As I approached, a woman with golden curls turned to me, her eyes said tragedy. “Somebody drowned,” she whispered.
I looked over the edge as two lifeguards, hands wrapped firmly around John’s wrists, dragged his lifeless, limp, grey body from the water.
I thrust Isaac into the arms of a curly-haired angel, and I think I cried out, but I have no idea what I said.
As I ran down to the beach, it felt like the crowd had grown in seconds. There were people gathering, and as I ran toward John’s body, people began to grab at me to stop me from getting close.
My mind was full and empty at the same time. Could this really be happening? Is he really gone? If he were to be resuscitated, what would his function be? Is this a dream? Is this a nightmare? If this isn’t real, I want out. I want out NOW!
Making my way through the crowd, I felt hands grab at my upper arms trying to stop me from moving toward him. In a flurry of Spanish speaking people, someone yelled out in English, “It’s his wife!” and the hands that grasped my upper arms so firmly let go as I collapsed on the sand next to his body.
The lifeguards saw the terror in my eyes and proceeded to attempt to resuscitate him, but I knew, they knew, we all knew – he was gone.
Crumpled on the beach next to his body, surrounded by strangers, and being told not to touch my husband because it was a “crime scene”, I looked down at his body and noticed the birth mark on his stomach, the scar next to his eye, and the rings upon his hands.
Never again would I experience the loving touch of this man. Our children would never again feel the warmth of his hugs, be lifted upon his shoulders, to be given a midnight feeding, or experience the joy of peek-a-boo with those eyes.
My life – our lives - were forever changed in that moment, and it wasn’t a nightmare I was going to wake from.
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