Nature Heals: A Non-Scientific Study
A 5-year, blinded by multiple deaths of loved ones, study.
After Paul died (Aug 2009) I spent my few waking hours out on the back deck of our home. From my lofty vantage point, I soaked up the panorama of our own overgrown lawn and gardens and the wild acreage surrounding them. Beyond all the love and support of our circle of family and friends, nature itself helped bring me back to life. In Memoir Monday 3 I wrote about my experiences with nature immediately after Paul’s death. If you missed it, you can catch up here: Memoir Monday 3 http://wp.me/p3i5jo-wA
When our home and property was stripped in the name of “estate business” and I no longer felt the essence of Paul within those walls, I ran away to the beach. I’ve told that part of the story before. Once again, nature brought me back to life.
Excerpts from the beach cave, February-March 2010:
I think about the cool agates I found earlier in the day and the beautiful sunset I watched from the beach. Ahhh, this is the life.
The beach was a comedy of errors today, with lots of treasures found. It started out cloudy with sun breaks, and yes, very windy. I had on my layers, rolled up the cuffs of my pants, grabbed a wad of tissues for the runny nose, and was off. Just yesterday I figured out to roll up my pants, instead of having them drag in the sand and soak me to my calves. All vestiges of vanity were left in the truck; I looked ridiculous, with a smile. I found 2 awesome pieces of driftwood right off the bat. Along with a half-dollar sized yellow agate, I seemed to be on a rock hunt today. So many beauties, mostly green, but I got some interesting layered ones and a big maroon rock with white streaks in it.
Weekends get busy here, and I usually don’t go down to the beach if there are tons of people, but I just needed to today. They were all wimpy tourists, and pretty soon I had the whole stretch practically to myself. A couple of women were griping about “slim pickings today”. I’m not sure what they were looking for, maybe twenty-dollar bills? I was finding a little of everything, including a teeny tiny sand dollar. You know me; I was having a freaking blast. Kid in a candy store kind of fun. Like that. Pretty soon I look up and I am alone on the entire beach, some dark clouds are hanging over me, but I keep doing what I do. I sneak down to the get a peak at the good stuff when the tide goes out, grab a shell or rock, and then race back to safety when the waves come back to try and get me. This is good good exercise. I also laugh at myself a lot and thank the waves and the ocean when they bring me a goody—out loud. You know, just being my own crazy self.
In the middle of my dance with the waves a little hail started falling. I look up to judge how far away my truck is (a long way) and keep on hunting. It has briefly hailed on me the last several days, no big deal. Next the rain came, in seconds it was pouring. No, I didn’t bring a damn umbrella down to the beach. I have a perfectly good hood on my coat…that was soaked through and dripping in my eyes within minutes. Of course, as it goes when you hang out with Murphy, the wind kicked up. The big meaty front parts of my legs are numb from wind and ice cold rain. My hands are now too wet, but I attempt to put my gloves on, no such luck, I shove them back in my pockets. With all this water from the ocean, water from the sky, well, now I have to pee so bad I’m almost in tears. By the way, I am STILL looking at the goodies on the sand, and even picking up a few. I am a diehard. The rain stopped by the time I wearily climbed the huge sandy bank and reached the bathrooms. Standing under the eaves of the building is about 7 wimpy tourists. I said, “You chickens!” One smarmy lady replied, “No, we just know when to come in out of the rain.”
So, I finally figured out to roll up my pant legs, but it is a moot point, since I am soaked from top to toes anyway. GRRRR. Now, fully warm (I finally changed my propane tank), I’m gonna curl up with a hot cup of coffee and my library books about agates, shells, seaweed, whales and other beach-living necessities. Home schooling at its best! (The common sense is supposed to come naturally.) Huh.
Each death that followed over the course of the next several years, plunged me back into darkness. Nature revived me again and again. I am held gently in the arms of solitude and nature. So many times I had no words to express my feelings of pain, guilt and loss. Instead, I’d reach for my camera to witness, record and share every angle of beauty that I could find.
My heart was lifted by this witnessing and sharing, and I felt like I could breathe again, that I could take the next step towards living.
And you responded with kind words about what you saw and enjoyed in my photos and words. You got it. These responses also helped/help bring me back to life.
Witnessing and photographing nature and other amazing and wondrous things is my sedative, my meditation, my prayer. I am reminded that, through all the pain of grief, beauty, joy and wonder still exists for me to witness and share.
June 23, 2014 at 4:21 pm
This is so inspiring, Patti. Thank you for sharing your words; I’m sure they’ll bring hope to many others.
June 26, 2014 at 1:19 am
Thank you, Miranda.
June 23, 2014 at 7:24 pm
You were doing what comes naturally for you 🙂 I love that you didn’t come out of the rain until you were ready 🙂
June 26, 2014 at 1:19 am
That’s me. Thank you, Susan.
June 23, 2014 at 8:24 pm
Patti time softens our grief and nature makes you feel alive again. I prefer to wander the beach in the winter, when I can have it to myself. Beautiful words of hope through living a life the only way you know how.
June 26, 2014 at 1:22 am
I enjoy the hope you share on your blog, Kath. Thank you for joining in here.
June 23, 2014 at 9:27 pm
Your ability to withstand the loss of Paul, your focus on what would help you, and your writing about it, all contributed to my surviving the loss of Julia. I owe you thanks for that Patti. I very much doubt I’m the only one who’s said that, and will probably say it again in the future.
xxx Massive Hugs xxx
June 26, 2014 at 1:26 am
Oh, David, you made me cry. That has to be the most heartwarming comment ever. You owe me nothing, but I am grateful for our continued friendship. Hugs back, just as massive.
June 25, 2014 at 7:20 pm
Patti you are like the Phoenix, that keeps rising. Your words and photos along with your kindness are an inspiration to many. 🙂
June 26, 2014 at 1:28 am
I’m the faltering Phoenix at the moment, but I always appreciate your kind words, Debby. Thank you for the birthday wishes and I hope your sale this week brings in some new readers for your book. Good luck!
June 26, 2014 at 7:56 am
Thanks Patti ❤ and you are welcome. Happy birthday again. 🙂
June 26, 2014 at 7:59 am
Thanks again, Debby!
June 26, 2014 at 8:12 am
Nature as Great Mother, holding us in Her comforting lap. And I love the Egyptian Sky Goddess Nut who arches Her body across the sky and holds us in life and death. Rain must be Her tears. As I walked two or three times a day on my land after Vic’s death, I soaked in the beauty and unstoppable life. To balance my hopeless, aching, and closer to death than life heart, I created altars with stones and wild flowers in season. Nature called and called and called. She kept me from falling over the edge.
June 26, 2014 at 8:17 am
What beautiful words, Elaine. I feel so incredibly lucky to have you here!
She continues to call me off the edge, I just have to open the cave door and follow..
June 26, 2014 at 8:14 am
I didn’t thank you for bringing me comfort today. Thank you.
June 26, 2014 at 8:18 am
Oh, my, I was just thinking the same of you. Thank you.
June 27, 2014 at 1:25 pm
aAs usual Patti…..WOW!!!!
June 27, 2014 at 2:54 pm
Thank you, Anty 🙂