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I stood on the beach. The funeral was still a couple days away. The kids wandered off, collecting shells and dipping their feet into Tampa Bay. Only children do that in November. The family milled around, aimlessly, trying to make sense for each other of the new gaping hole in their lives.

The tide came in as the sun began to set over the horizon. I stood alone, reflecting on the fact that life came from the oceans. Indeed, I was standing on the detritus of countless living things that had eroded over aeons.

Then it came. The bay and the sunset called me. I didn’t hear the call in my auditory cortex- I could feel it at the level of my DNA.

“Come home,” it said. “Come home and be with us. You’ve had your fun. You wanted to try new things- multicellularity, differentiation, living on land, walking on two feet, playing the double bass. You’ve done all that. We miss you. Come home and be with us.”

The sun sank lower, now a glowing sliver on the horizon. “Come home.” The warmth and love I felt in my DNA captivated me. It was a gentle welcome home that was filled with the love of all life itself. I felt the impulse to jump in, swim out to the deep of the bay, and after a few short minutes I’d experience the unimaginable joy of reuniting with the universe.

My daughter brought me a shell. I stood, watching as the last of the sun slip away.

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