Winter continued to grip most of the country for longer than expected in 2019. The calendar and the weather patterns have finally come to terms as warm weather at long last descends upon the Lowcountry -and much of the nation. I head to the beach eagerly anticipating the start of the season. It is my first opportunity to frequent the place I love most in the world. The place that brings me peace, comfort, and calm. I am long overdue for a visit.
I embark on the familiar road that leads to my destination, back to the beach. I realize much has changed since my last trip of autumn. Previous hurricanes had left the roads impassable and the beaches unrecognizable. I reflect upon the similarities to my personal life. The brutality of the unexpected abandonment by my second husband. The direct hit of the grief caused by the betrayal. The cold that descended upon my heart and felt as if it would never end.
I had been certain the destruction would be lasting. People will tell you that time heals. I quickly discovered that time does not heal – it merely passes. Similarly, I had wondered last fall, how rebuilding at the beach would ever be achieved. The winter weather continued to wreak havoc on a fragile ecosystem. Yet, like my life, the road ahead has been restored and repaved. It is a smooth and pleasant drive the entire way to the shore.
I crest the causeway and cross onto the island, I take in the beautiful vista. For too long, it went unnoticed. The destruction that had been visible and the debris left behind by raging storms can no longer be seen – but like me, the scars are there. The roads have been widened. Attempts have been made to call back land from the control of the water. This will assist in evacuation from the next storm and afford impatient visitors the sense of quicker access to this lovely and mostly untouched paradise. The road is cleared of sand and debris. Downed trees have been removed, so visitors have at least limited access to the waters they seek.
I have made so many trips down this road to this very spot. I was so often lost, crying, praying. I longed for connection – from the man I had loved, from the attorney who represented me for word of progress, from a friend to help fill the void I had been certain could never be filled. I wondered how I could go on. I depended upon the ocean for focus, for centering. I needed a reminder that debris is washed away, and treasures brought to shore with each breaking wave. Shore birds, and sea life returned to this battered place just as I returned with my wounded self – searching for the continuum of life.
I head to Edisto, my favorite beach. It is the least preferred by locals who are unappreciative of its rugged topography and unpretentious shells and visitors. Yet it calls to me in a way that none of my other local beaches do. It is my escape and offers a respite from chores, obligations, and commitments – if only for the day. The continuously breaking waves reinforce the inner peace I have found and the joy I have at last reclaimed. There is a continuum of life which is boundless, and the familiar sounds and smells provide renewed determination to achieve and to thrive.
I must find one of the few places available to park my car as my preferred options are no longer available. This too is a reminder of the changes in my life. When one has lost everything, everything must be reevaluated. I unload my chair and my bag of books, pads, and pens. Once seated, and sunhat securely in place I gaze at the breaking waves. The sun burns off the remaining morning fog. It is still the world I know. I experience an immediate sense of peace, calm, and joy.
It is time to read The Choice by Edith Eva Eber-an appropriate title for my newfound self. An hour passes like an instant and I find I have fallen asleep. I awake slowly to the surf and children who arrived as I dozed. They are jumping waves and squealing with delight as water-too cold for my liking-breaks against their young skin. Three elderly ladies are strolling in front of me. A father and son are behind me tossing a football. The tide has moved further from the place I had settled. Still the sound of the waves and the warmth of the sun remain familiar and soothing.
I have written, read, meditated, reflected, and am completely relaxed. It is time to return to my routine but with an improved and enhanced outlook. I smile while recalling a familiar quote by Lewis Carroll, “[But] it’s no use going back to yesterday, for I was a different person then.” I return to my car and am ready to head for home.