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Healing your body after the death of a beloved

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Living with an unbearable loss

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Moving forward into the life you create in the wake of loss

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Seaworthy (for Meredith)

“Some nights, dreaming,
I step again into the small boat
that carried us out and watch the bank receding—”
Natasha Tretheway, “Elegy”

My daughter calls to offer me some
sweet words of support. I tell her the days are okay but nights
I wake in fear, practice deep breathing until dreaming
rises like sea water and I sleep. In our first house I
notched proof of her life—a tiny gouge, a pencil line, dates in stair-step
fashion. And in the basement, which I visit again
in dreams, her father builds the boat we climbed into
together. The polished mahogany gunwale, the
lapstrake planks painted white—a small
endeavor, just eight feet from stern to bow—the boat
he finished on a brisk spring day, that
we lifted, carried
across the grassy dunes. Three of us,
bearing all that weight, leaving traces in our wake. We sailed out
further than I ever imagined and
turned to look back, gauge the distance, watch
the changing sky. I tell her I do not think we are alone in this world though the
shore is all we know, the line of cottonwood trees, the sloping bank
quickly receding.

—From “Seaworthy,” @ 2018 River Rock Books

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