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
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.
How ironic it is, then, that your little house by a farmer’s field has healed my shattered heart this summer–a heart that longed for the towers of a city and the waters of a Great Lake . . . a gift to one, and a lesson to another. I am grounded again. I am an island in the sea of uncertainty. Thank you, Sister, for sharing your home.
Denise – Thank you for this…it is truly beautiful and moved me to tears.
Last summer I took my sister back to the Island after 65 years! She was 5 when we were last there on a summer vacation (we lived in Moncton NB at the time-and she’s lived out West since then). As we drove across the bridge and the stunning red soil and green of the potato fields got closer I felt overcome with emotion, and blurted out “This feels like I’m coming home”.
I think we were both surprised at my reaction…
and yet-it was how I felt as we boarded the ferry home that summer 65 years earlier. I remember saying to myself I will be back here again someday…I love this Island!!
It’s effect is permanent.
Beautiful. I cried with you.
This so resonated with me, Denise. Thank you for your beautiful words – so real, so tender, powerful, and comforting. I love your writing. Have a blessed day 🙏