Yesterday morning, I ugly cried into the ocean.
I heaved and tried to breathe and thought I was okay, and then I just began again, and again, gasping and crying.
I felt it aching in my gut muscles. It hurts, crying that hard.
I was chest deep in saltwater as warm as a bath. I was alone, looking at a sunrise gift.
The reason I was there was a lie. I screwed up with scheduling for work (my head is not totally clear these past days), and was too ashamed to admit such a mistake to my family.
Childcare had already been arranged. Schedules had been shifted. It was all a big mess.
So instead of telling them, I took advantage of the situation and headed to the beach, alone.
As I was wading into the water, all the comments, letters, emails, messages were swirling around in my mind. I’ve never had so many people tell me how brave or strong or loving or amazing I am in all my life.
I was thinking of my mom, who I still cannot save, and my brother, who is scraping by, and my own family, who thinks I am working at this moment, and I’m not.
I’m nothing. I’m not brave or strong or amazing. I can’t even keep my own schedule straight and I screw up every single day.
I began this project out of sheer desperation. It wasn’t an act of courage.
It was a scream in the dark. The doctors were not keeping us informed. My mom was not communicating. Everything was falling to pieces when I made that video for her.
Nothing, in all these years, has been enough to get my mom into a better situation. Never enough money, never enough time, never any new solutions.
I’ve daydreamed about hitting the lottery, like a child. The house I could build her, the places I could take her, the things I might do for her, and my brother.
I could save them. I could save us all.
But the years have relentlessly passed, and instead of that fairy tale ending, it’s just been hard, brutal reality with harder times ahead.
And looking into the vast ocean ahead of me, I felt so, so small and inadequate. So that’s when I cried.
When I got my shit together finally, I pulled my mask on and stuck a snorkel in my mouth and went under.
It was so quiet under there. Just my breathing, which was panicky, at first.
But as my breathing leveled out, I began to see.
I could see the ripples of the ocean floor and the rainbow light arcs dancing on my arms and the floating specs of sand like glitter in the underwater sunbeams.
The fish began to appear. Tiny, beautiful little things with yellow fins, swimming all around me.
Deep breaths. Floating…
“What is the lesson here?” I asked myself.
“What is the lesson? What is the lesson?” I kept asking.
And then the fish began nipping at me.
“I’m fish food,” I thought. “That is the lesson. I’m nothing but fish food.”
I laughed at myself, and felt better.
Later that night, after most of the petty anxieties of the day had been resolved, I spoke with my mom on the phone.
She was in a good mood.
She mentioned how she had been feeling a bit nervous earlier in the day, but she was okay now. We talked a little about her mind and I said “I think you have a beautiful brain.”
This is not something I normally might say. She paused and said “Thank you. Thank you for saying that. Some parts are not so beautiful though. Some parts are kind of ugly.”
“I know, but those parts are not your fault.”
The next pause was too long and felt too heavy, so I said “Let’s not get too deep.”
She laughed and said “Yeah, don’t go too deep, or you might fall.”