It was the second July since my husband John’s suicide and my first July living in San Diego. My best friend since teenage-hood, Lynnette and I were desperate to get away from our five children. We had recently become roommates and drink-as-we-might to blend our two single-mom families into one, there just wasn’t enough alcohol to make this recent cohabitation less noisy and cramped.
So we left the older kids in charge, packed an ice chest and headed to what has always been our salvation: the beach.
This time though, for added sanity, we went to the nude beach.
Nudity has been such an important part of my grief. Nudity has been such an important part of Lynnette’s life. As long as I exist, I will never meet anyone more secure in their own skin as Lynnette is. I have learned a lot from her about the kind of power that we, as women possess and how to harness this power into the return of the self confidence my husband had taken from me with his shotgun.
The weather was impossibly perfect-or maybe it’s just that my memory of that day was. The humidity was just enough to make the natural waves of my hair bounce, but not enough to make them frizz. The sun was bright enough to illuminate Lynnette’s tattoos but the occasional haze of clouds was dark enough to hide the fact that her large tattoos were covering the names of exes.
We spent the first hour or so, comparing the genitalia of the nude, middle -added European men, and then after much laughter, we had to conspire a plan about how to discreetly pee in the ocean. It was decided the best course of action was to wade into the water up to our belly buttons, stay five feet away from each other and then just let it go while looking out at the horizon and avoiding eye contact with everyone. And so we waded out.
Peeing while naked in the ocean sounds so much easier than it actually is.
Mainly because of the waves and inhibition. One second you’re covered by water from your breasts down, and the next, the water is at your ankles and naked strangers will be able to see the yellow trickle running down your legs. From start to finish it took us both thirty full minutes to intermittently drain our bladders.
When we turned to walk back to the shore I saw a young couple. He had on Oakley sunglasses, the same kind my husband had on, on our wedding day, and she had on an impossibly wide smile the same kind I had on, on our wedding day. It was then that I remembered
It was also then that I realized I had forgotten this fact about my life-for the first time in a year and a half-for thirty whole minutes.
Lynnette and I spent the remainder of that day naked and discussing our future. Should we buy a house this year or rent? Did she get my social security number correct when she put me as the beneficiary to her life insurance? Which one of our children is most likely to be gay? Who keeps leaving the dirty dish towels in the sink? Which one of us gets to go on a date this week and which one of us has to stay home with the kids? Should we attempt to hang our own Christmas lights this year?
Lynnette is my Chapter Two.
It is widely accepted within the widowed community that a “Chapter Two,” as they call it, is the love you find after your partner’s death. I don’t know why everyone tends to equate this with romantic love. Sex does not define your Chapter Two, hope does. Your Chapter Two is the person, animal, or thing that encourages you to live again, and instills you with hope. Your Chapter Two is what you are surrounded with in that moment you dare to dream again.
Who or what is your Chapter Two? Is your Chapter Two even human? Do you spend your Friday nights planning a road trip with your four-legged friend? If you do, that four-legged friend is your Chapter 2. Is your Chapter Two your recent discovery of the peace that washes over you when you perform a monologue on stage for the first time ever? New found hobbies, passions, and desires can also be your Chapter Two.
Think outside of the widowed box today. Stop lamenting on the fact that you may never find romantic love again, and start looking around for the love that is already in your life.
©2017 Michelle Miller