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Messages in the sand

“death taps us on the shoulder and asks us to encapsulate a life by its loves.  Death is not impressed by what we have done, unless what we have done leaves a legacy of life; death’s tide washes over everything we have taken so long to write in the sand.  What is remembered in all our work is what is still alive in the hearts and minds of others.  ”

David Whyte: Crossing an Unknown Sea

This is a fairly common sentiment, this notion that stuff we do or the things we collect while here are not what is remembered after we are gone.  There was a popular (and wonderful) post floating around a few years ago that beautifully captured this.  But I was struck again by the imagery of David Whyte this morning, this image of death as a wave and our life’s work as writing in the sand.  I immediately thought of my mom and the moment her wave came crashing in.  And this image, this message felt so true to me for the first time.

I don’t remember the things my mom did in her life beyond really how they remind me of her essence, her being.  I do remember with great clarity, emotion, and warmth so many wonderful moments, lessons, and love from her.  I remember her lovingly rubbing my head in a “I’ll always love you, no matter what,” way just days before her death- something only a mother can do.  I remember the excitement and warmth of exploration with her, appreciation for the outdoors and the world’s treasures, and importance of the inner work.  And in remembering all that I experienced with her in her time here, I realized that the the while the wave erased what she wrote, so much of her being and the essence of our time together, shows up in how I write…and in turn helps my being, my presence, my love for my daughter – and thus how she writes.  The work is erased, but the love and spirit provided by our being, is passed forward.

One comment on “Messages in the sand

  1. Joe says:

    This is quite lovely. I’ve missed my mom a lot the last few months (she was my closest confidant in life, and has been gone 3 1/2 years or so) and this really made stop and feel. I can’t remember if it’s Rumi or Gibran who talks about how we think the person we love stops playing music, but they’re really playing on the cosmic winds…but it seems a fitting companion to imagining the ocean and waves.


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