Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A place to deal

There is a sacred place in space and time. It is precisely where the ocean meets the sand, where the sun pierces the horizon turning the sky into a watercolor palette of perfection. Beginning and end, birth and death, joy and pain, sense and non-sense all meet in this place. Though its location is precise, it is also universal. This place could be anywhere. I know this place in my heart, in my soul and in my bones. Something tells me you probably do too.

I stood in this place yesterday evening and watched the fiery orange glow of the sun setting over the Gulf of Mexico. The salt from my tears was bittersweet alongside the lingering taste of ocean in my mouth. I stood there this morning after having meditated in solitude on the dark, pre-dawn beach with the nearly full moon illuminating the surf, and I felt the sun's energy rising up along my back.

I was on Florida's West coast for one of my company's annual meetings. This was a business trip like none other. Normally I wouldn't find myself crying, or swimming in the ocean for that matter, on a run-of-the-mill company gathering. But yesterday one of my colleagues, V., fell to the ground suddenly while we were in the midst of playing relay race-style team building games on the beach. She began to have a seizure. Another colleague, a former EMT, stepped in and stabilized her as best he could until the paramedics arrived. Roughly three hours and three cardiac arrests later, she passed away.

Surreal is the word that continues to find its way onto my lips. How to comprehend that one minute someone is standing there, laughing, alive, animated, and then seemingly without warning, they are gone the next? How to be the one to call that person's loved ones and how to be that loved one who had to fly across the country to a place you don't know to "claim" everything you knew to be true? How do you deal?

I dealt in the ocean. I couldn't get in the water fast enough after the medics wheeled the kind, talented, admired and adored V. away. I craved Mother Nature's embrace in the form of rolling surf, salt and sand. My internal clock brought me away from our grieving group at precisely the right moment to watch last night's sunset, and it woke me at just the right time to experience the calming ritual of my morning yoga practice on the beach at dawn. In these moments in this place I began to wade through all the emotion of the previous hours. Being present for this heartbreaking turn of events, grieving the loss of V., feeling a powerful connection to people I've related to in almost exclusively a professional capacity before now, feeling a connection to certain people in my personal life that surprised me as well. . . It is a lot to take in and certainly will take more time to process, but process it, I shall. Deal, I shall.

Experience has taught me that if you sit still, quiet down and let your heart guide you, you will find your way to navigate any experience or situation life presents you. You will know if you are best served seeking solace in nature, in a trusted loved one or in your faith. You will know instinctively who's embrace you want to feel around you to be comforted. You will know how to help yourself. It is within us all.

In loving memory of V., I wish you all peace and comfort.

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