I am ten years old; my knobby knees shaking as I stand upon the high diving board getting ready to jump as the last test of my abilities. After six weeks of swimming lessons, they think I am ready for this. What do they know?
Grateful that I am wearing a tight, white rubber swimmer’s cap, I hope it will keep my head from exploding from fear, and deafen the sound of my pounding heartbeat.
I am next in line and hear the teacher’s repetitious encouragement. I ready myself, and because of my desire to not be ridiculed by my classmates, I take a leap of faith.
I am sixty-five pounds soaking wet, but I drop like a beluga whale being released back into the ocean. My ears fill with water despite my tighter-than-skin cap, and after my body hits the water, all I can think of is getting to the nearest side of the pool.
Years later my best friend’s family has an in-ground pool in their backyard and I spend most of my summer days at their house despite my minimal-at-best swimming ability. My first husband is an avid swimmer and we spend our weekends at his aunt’s lakeside home, water being a central theme.
Looking back, I see that I have always loved being AROUND water, but not necessarily IN the water, which probably goes back to my days on that high-dive!
In Mark Nepo’s book The Book of Awakening, he writes:
“When our days are turbulent and troubled, our challenge is to remember that the wave is not the sea. Though it pounds us, the pounding will pass. Though it tosses us about; the tossing will pass, if we don’t fight it.”
“Often our fear misleads us to stay in close to shore, when the safest place is in the deep, if we can get there. Any swimmer knows: Stay too close to shore and you will be battered by the surf and undertow. We must swim out past the breakers if we are to know the hammock of the deep.”
Reflecting on the many turbulent and troubled days I have had over the course of my life, I see the truth spoken in his words.
Whenever loss occurs my emotions seem to take over and I am often unable to believe the pounding and tossing will pass. When I am IN water, I kick through the pounding waves to the nearest place of safety like a pool’s edge, where I cling, catching my breath.
The lessons I pass to other swimmers wading through the dark, murky waters of grief however, is to allow the current to take you…
- Imagine that each breath you take, each stroke will propel you toward healing.
- Allow family and friends to support you, let them be your life-jacket while you are grieving.
- Surrender to the current of emotions that will come. Allow them to ebb and flow just like ocean waves.
- Don’t expect too much of yourself – some days you have the energy to kick and move forward, other days you can only float.
- Know that there is a force (whatever you name it) that will rock you like a loving parent and place you safely on shore, after the storm has passed.
What do you do when the waves of grief come crashing in on you?
How have you taken a leap of faith?