My husband Mark once said that I write best about loss. But if writing is about capturing a moment, one that was formerly present, then writing is truly about finding a container for the past.
First, I tell you, I carry an ocean with me everyday. I have since the day I first dipped a tentative toe into the Pacific Ocean along the Oregon Coast some fourteen years ago. My son Davis was birthed there, my first husband’s ashes spread there, but mostly, it is where my soul resides. Every year since I moved away, I return to spend days at a time strolling the sands of Oceanside, and the many other beaches where my spirit found peace and healing in the tide pools and sand dunes. It helps that my son’s grandparents now reside where we once did.
I used to plan my Oregon trips according to the tides. When the moon was at its fullest, at the height of the July summer, the tides were at their lowest due to gravitiational pull. A tug that not only impacted the water levels, but pulled at me too, to take flight and return to my place of peace. I would pack up my son, and then my not quite yet ready for blending family, and head West. This year, that date coincided with a family trip to Europe.
So I gave up the notion of traveling when the tides talked the loudest to me. My consolation was that I could use my frequent flier miles to travel to Oregon with Davis, my son, for a quick trip on the heels of the European tour. Such was the plan, until an e-mail arrived in my inbox one day with a flier about his tryouts for the golf team.
To understand the importance of golf in Davis’ life, one should know it is of equal or greater importance to the tides. His father was a golfer, his grandfather and great grandfather. We held golf outings in memory of his father. And when it came time to spread his ashes, we did so with a 21 golf ball salute into the ocean. We still comb the beach looking for the return of any of those balls, but that would be a pointless as expecting his father to arise from out the ocean and walk back into out lives.
Davis had to make a decision on whether to travel to Oregon or stay at home and tryout for golf. And regrettably I would have to follow. In the back of my mind, my hope for peace washed away, carried out to become an actor on someone else’s stage that night. Sadly, Davis placed the call to his grandparents – he would tryout for the golf team. And they were ecstatic – there are dreams of families and then there are family’s dreams.
In the end, Davis would call from the car phone, to tell me he made the team. The coach had expanded the team by three places because the coach couldn’t make the cut. In Davis’s mind he questioned whether he would have made the first cut. In my mind, I knew that to choose an ocean over the greens, one must surely be in favor with the golfing gods, or at least a golfing dad.
Yet I still feel like I let Davis down. It has always been my job to help him remember his father, and for me to honor his memory as well. I could never have imagined that allowing Davis to choose between sandy beaches or sandy traps that he would have chosen the latter. And that this too would be a way, albeit a mature one, in which he could honor his father.
It is true, Mark was right. I can only write about loss. But I am writing so that I can let go of those moments of birth and death, son and father, and of course, my own rebirth as mother and writer, and give that moment away when necessary – even if I am only giving it back to me.