The night is close, like an embrace. Yes, my old friend, the island, rises up around me and welcomes me home. But it’s as if I never left. Nahant, roots woven deep into my heart. I walk down the sloping street, past the faces of beach houses familiar even in shadow, breathing sweet hydrangea and the salt of the sea, and I am nineteen again. I wonder if I have found The One, flutters in my stomach. I have not yet dreamed Rosé’s name. Prince Edward Island is a faraway dream obscured by the horizon’s cityscape. I glimpse black water glittering between the houses, and waves hush against sand, growing louder, fading, now rushing, drawing me closer—and then I am here. Before me, the pale shore gives way to the sea. I cry like I haven’t cried in a long time.
Because the truth is I am not nineteen anymore. I moved on from this island to another. I did not find The One here, but there. And yet, for a few moments, here beneath the stars crowning this bewitching crescent in the Atlantic, I really am living it all again. I can smell and see and feel it. But I cannot hold on to it. Memory and reality tear my heart in two. I am bleeding.
It is the following morning. Nahant is soaked in light, just as on that first morning when I wandered my way to the sea and inhaled the world and God flooded down into me as He never had before. I became a woman on this island. It was here that I finally, truly, came to believe that I am good and beautiful. All was extraordinary, because God showed Himself to me whenever, wherever, He could. I could not doubt His love. Today, I stand gazing at the wrinkled water with a baby perched on my hip. The future is not so unknown and thrilling as it was back then, but I resent its stillness no more than I do the sea’s. Who knows what may lie awaiting me in the deep.
I carry Rosé into the streets I came to love five years ago. We explore together. My baby’s warmth and the sun’s fire slowly, gently, fuse the pieces of my heart back together.
I have not often experienced pain like I did the night I returned to Nahant. I don’t cry often either. God must have broken my heart because He knew it was the only way I‘d be able to let go. Because the heart that heals is stronger than ever, and tears cleanse.
Five years later, I am free to love this place without clinging.
And free to more fully love my present home. I am married to a man whom I love, and mother to a daughter who has already blessed countless people with her remarkable eyes and smile, and I don’t live on an island of any sort anymore but in a little house beside a farmer’s field. And I may not feel God like I did when I was nineteen, but He is still inside me, blessing me. I am still living life abundantly.
My heart will keep on singing.