The dogs and I came upon a young woman lying on the beach this morning. Selah did a puppy bounce around her waiting to be adored, but the girl did not stir or move or react. In the predawn she looked like a slight shadow, very young and curled around herself, but as I kneeled next to her I saw the distance in her wide open eyes. She stared out into the surf and might have been dead except for the intense shivering.
I took my sweatshirt off and put it over her and sat down in the sand.
In this beginning of the second half of my life I have learned to listen more to my intuition and my heart, than to my head. So I did not dial 911 or yell for help. Lights were on in a few of the oceanfront houses, but it was just us on the beach. It felt more right than not to just sit in silence and let the dogs play and the winds calm and the sun rise.
I reached out my hand and brushed a bit of hair from her face. The long strands were stiff with sand and damp and I knew. Instantly, I knew. I thought then about the exact right words to say to someone hell bent on suicide. But there are no right words.
So I said, “You don’t need to be underwater to feel like you’re drowning, do you?”
She did not answer with words, but my hand was still smoothing her hair when I felt the nod.
Penetrating sadness vibrates low and moves slowly.
I moved closer, gently placed her head on my lap and waited.
Both dogs, tired from romping, lay down beside us and she begins to speak in agonizing whispers about not being good enough, smart enough, pretty enough for her husband who just last week returned from war. She does not know who he is anymore and he does not know who she is anymore and she is sure it is she who is inadequate and why they are done.
“Are you done?” I ask.
The question makes her weep and she nearly crawls into my lap. I consider this a good sign.
Softly, I tell her that hearts opening themselves to one another are a bit like anticipating the shiny thing that comes in a tiny box that is hidden inside a dozen larger boxes. So often we think the large boxes are just empty packaging. Except they are not empty, and they never contain what we think they will.
Love must be slowly unwrapped and fallen into each day without expectation. Expecting changes the air… and it is always those things you don’t see coming that can crush you.
My words make her cry harder and leave me breathless and I begin to cry too. I have a silent argument with God. I can’t ever figure out why He places me in situations I feel ill prepared to handle. Seriously, it’s like arguing with a damn rock. He wins without words and I am left cracked wide open and raw.
I do not notice the shadow of a man running full out up the beach until the dogs alert. I just barely hear him yelling into the wind, “Oh my God, oh my God. Carly…” when he is upon us and sweeps the woman in my arms into his own. She wraps around him and holds on and something inside of me gives way.
Spike is suspicious, Selah is frantic and long moments of unadulterated emotion hold all of us until the young woman reaches out to me, squeezes my hand and smiles through her tears.
I manage a deep breath and say, “You are not done.”
Young women, listen please…
A man worthy of loving you will love you unadorned, smart or inexperienced, dressed up or dressed down, laughing or crying, frightened or brave. Let him be who he is and love him for what he is each and every time he walks through the door.
Unwrap your love slowly and know this: you are enough just as you are and the allure of a woman in full possession of herself and her powers will prove irresistible.
The only thing you need to be is unafraid of finding out exactly who you are and then step straight in, hold your head high and carry the universe in your heart.
“Love is not a because, it’s a no matter what.” ~Picoult
Lynnette Bukowski © 2013