I scour the rocky beach with my young friend Micah. Through his eyes I’m discovering all the wonders of this remote bay in Kodiak. A simple request to see the bay has evolved into a scavenger hunt along cliffs and boulders. As I scamper over barnacled rocks in my slippers, I’m transported into Micah’s playground of tide pools, tiny hermit crabs, even a sea urchin. Jagged rocks loom large like sentinels over these beach treasures. But the treasure that most catches my eye glints slightly beneath the puzzle of smooth , black, flat beach rocks perfect for skipping in the ocean.
“What is that?” I ask Micah as he chooses the perfect stone to throw into the water. He stoops down to look at the tiny blue treasure. “Sea glass” He picks it out, cups it in his hand and hands it to me.
“Blue is the best color. That’s the most rare on this beach. That’s my favorite. “I examine the tiny sapphire jewel in my hand. The color is deep. The edges round and smooth.
“That’s a good piece. I know a perfect place where we can go and find some more. Come on!”
Over kelp bulbs, seaweed, rocks we scramble until Micah and ruddy cheeked 5year- old Stuey lead me to the promised land. “Look at this one,” says Stuey . In his chubby little palm lays a perfect piece of aqua sea glass.
“Oh, that’s beautiful. Can I have that piece?” I ask.
His little blond head ponders for a moment. He shakes it back and forth.
“No,” he says. “I like this piece.” He scrambles off to find some more.
A little miffed I crouch down to seek out my own. I discover a large blue piece to examine. I love the color. “What about this one?” I offer.
Micah comes over to inspect. “No,” he says, “the edges are too jagged. It’s not ready yet.”
Stuey returns, clenched fist uncurling to reveal a large brown piece.”I like this one.” Micah examines. ” No Stuey. Not that one. It’s too sharp. You’ll cut yourself.”
“No I won’t,” he protests, clutching the jagged piece in the flesh of his palm even harder. “Look. I’m not hurt!”
And as I watch that cherub faced boy tight fisted clench that shard I realize
I am that broken piece,
Shattered from the impact of watching my mother decline.
Like sea glass worn away over time
Broken pieces of the woman she once was
Her memory, cognition, awareness are diminished
By this disease called Alzheimer’s.
The brain eroded by plaques,
Minerals eating away her mind
As sea salt eats away glass
Rendering it transparent
While I still broken, fragmented, attempting to to grasp understanding of this disease,
Its process like salt burns my wounded heart,
I still have sharp edges, cutting words, distorted from lack of sleep, anxiety of the unknown,
Guilt divided between duty to my children and husband and duty to her.
I too held on too tightly
Squeezing the broken pieces of my life too hard
Thinking it was noble, beautiful to hold on to the pain and let uncertainty and fear and guilt grip me
as I watch this disease wear down my mother.
Yet she like sea glass
Continues to shine
Luminous beauty beneath lost memories,
Spirit glowing under frosted edges,
Edges smooth and gentle
A treasure to be found.
My friend told me the story of sea glass:That true sea glass has rounded edges
And pieces like bottle tops and bottoms are most rare
As are the colors blue and aqua.
And in a piece of true sea glass
The original color remains the same
Only gilded by the coat from the sea.
A myth about sea glass Is to return the broken pieces not yet polished
Back to the sea as you make a wish.
So I will throw this broken fragment back to the sea
And not wish for a cure
Or a miracle or her memory back.
Instead I will find treasure in her gently worn life
Her smoothed edges
Her luminous spirit
And clutch it to my heart.
Vina, Melanie probably told you that I thought that is such a beautiful writing. So profound and I loved your thoughts.
Elsie…..I know you have been an angel to many with your gifts you share bedside. Thank you for your sweet encouragement.
Sweet friend, this truly blesses me today. You are a treasure to me and I thank our God that you have found such a lovely and creative outlet through the pain. Love you.
How is everything with your dad these days…thinking of you often and your sweet mama……love you and know I am praying for your family xxo
I love this piece! Your photos are stunning!
you are stunning my little blogger friend….i always enjoy all of your posts! you are way more productive than I!
Beautiful writing……I like you am a caregiver of an aging parent who I wish to hold on to; yet see slipping away from the woman she once was. Thank you for sharing this piece. It reminds me of what I have to be thankful for and that I am not alone in “the caring of an adult parent. It’s hard, I know. Some days I feel bitter and angry and I cry and other days I rejoice . There are times I get upset that I am being robbed of time to live my life; then I feel so remorse at the fact I had such a thought. I journal (use to blog) to release what I think no one else feels; then somehow the universe will show me I am not alone.
Jacquie…..yes my dear we are not alone. I am learning that more and more as I hear others’ stories. And I completely understand the angst you feel when you have thoughts you don’t think you should have. I’m glad this encouraged you….anytime you want to vent feel free! keep journaling, it is a lifesaver!
V, This touched me when you sent it to me from Alaska, and as I read it to T, it touched him … And a few months later I read it and realize how beautiful your expression as a writer is and how you have such a gift and ability to heal souls with your words! Love you.
Melanie you are such an inspiration and encouragment to me, and I am so glad you are alongside this part of our life journeys…….