A photo. Happy, smiling faces.
Suddenly I am plunged into water that blinds and deafens me, wrapped in a cocoon of memory. A wave has crashed over my head, bearing me down, down, to a dark cave where lurks a brooding presence. This presence embraces me, not unkindly, as the anguish pours and surges.
My children. Happy, smiling. Full of life and promise.
The silent deafening roar of the wave peaks as I spin and tumble, insensate.
I don’t even remember these moments. I missed so much.
The tears flow, mixing with the salty embrace. Mute inchoate wails echo amidst the rush of water. I am wrapped in unseen arms until the wave passes.
I gently float to the surface, coming back to the world.
The photo is still here. I wish so hard to run back and gather them into my arms. I want to say I’m sorry, that I did the best I could, that — what? Their happy eyes and smiles seem to offer ready forgiveness — as do they, here and now, I remember.
Mournfulness and gratitude war gently within me until I am spent. The wave has passed, receded to its deep cavern.
I breathe and put away the photo. Somehow a bit of the pain has transmuted — into what? Acceptance, perhaps. Thankfulness, perhaps. It may be that I will never empty this cave of its reservoir of grief, but perhaps I will be less fearful of its power.