The Sea of Sorrow

Photo credit: Clarissa Moll

I go to the ocean to sit with my grief. Dead things are everywhere here. The landscape feels familiar. Empty shells, bits of cast off crabs, seaweed dried crisp by the radiating heat of sun on sand. Waves roll in, pushing the ribbon of detritus up the beach, adding more death with every breaker. The grim collection traces a dark line along the shore as far as the eye can see. The sea, an endless reservoir of salt tears.

A couple hundred yards away, a family eats their picnic lunch. I wonder about the menu. I cannot smell their food from where I sit. The wind coming off the water erases every scent except the pungency of salt water. I recognize that smell. I know it well now. The wind smells like sorrow.

Sometimes, I go to the beach and look for signs of life, in and amongst all of this death and sorrow. I marvel at the tiny bugs that scurry across the sand, at the brazen seagull with the gall to steal my sandwich.

But other times, I go and only search the horizon. Like the women who paced their widow’s walks atop clapboard houses, looking for familiar masts returning to harbor. I want to find an end to all this water, discover an edge that declares the grief is finite, that one day he will come home to me. I wonder how I can keep going in a world where the sorrow stretches out until the salt tears meet the sky.

“And there was no more sea.” Once upon a time, I read John the Revelator’s words crestfallen. I have always loved the ocean. How could one enjoy eternity without it? But perhaps, instead, this is the demise foretold. Not waves and crabs and sand beneath our toes, but seas of grief and trails of death that stretch along the shorelines of our lives. The endless reservoir of salt tears transformed into dry land.

Until then, I climb into my car, and the salty sand sticks to my legs. I lean back my head against the seat, close my eyes, and breathe in the smell of ocean grief. I remember his arms around me, the warmth of his presence, how much he loved this stretch of beach. Salt tears spring forth — the ocean I carry within me until the day there is no longer any sea.

Published by Clarissa Moll

Discovering grace in grief

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