"This cadence of the sea continues until a violent storm appears, forecast by dark, heavy clouds, and off and on snow squalls. Nor’easters, as these large ocean storms are called in New England, hit the Massachusetts’ coastline a few times a year. The winds build to hurricane proportion and the waves, instead of being gentle and rolling as they are today, grow huge, crashing, destroying, and changing landscapes, eating up old sand dunes, spitting out new ones, sucking cottages into the surf. Then, when their ferociousness dies down, the sea calms and resumes a natural rhythm once more.
Are we so different? We establish a comfortable tempo in our lives that we take for granted, until something untold happens to disrupt or destroy it.
How many times had the unexpected occurred in my life to change the rhythm I’d enjoyed? And how many times did I return here, to the ocean, to mend a broken heart, replenish my soul, to fight to recover the rhythm of my life."
New Year's Eve day 2014 changed my life. I sat with my sister as the doctor pronounced the word that neither of us wanted to hear - cancer. Four months later, she was dead. In those sixteen short weeks, I couldn't write, couldn't paint, couldn't focus, forgot things, and had no concentration. I resorted to working on my large Victorian doll house that had occupied a corner of an upstairs room for years, unfinished. Why? As one of my friends said, "it's because you don't have to concentrate on what you're doing." I laid down copper roof trim, measured and glued shingles on the plywood roof, and wallpapered... all things that I didn't have to think about; she was correct.
When my sister became bedridden, I needed something for us to do together, to keep her interest. And then I thought of it, her story; we could write the children's book that she had always talked about, but never wrote. I knew the general premise of the story, but I needed to bring her idea to life, to paint it with words, something she had always wanted to do, but couldn't. I sat one day at her side and read the first two pages to her. She smiled and said, "Why didn't you ever do that as a living? That's so wonderful." She meant writing. I laughed ... oh how I had tried. She loved what I had written. I had hoped she would be there to see the finished product, but in the blink of an eye, she was gone.
These last few weeks following her death, I have filled my hours with completing the tale. I'm now concentrating on painting the cover and a very dear friend, a wonderful artist, is working on the illustrations to go with the story.
Out of all the chaos, pain and sadness of these last few months, have come a beautiful story and a connection to my sister that still goes on. I will find a new rhythm for my life, one without my sister. It won't be easy, but in the end, it was the writing of her tale that carried me through these dark, sad weeks following her death. I thank her for that.