I wrote the other day about what I am now labeling the hurricane effect: the creation of something beautiful from a devastating storm – and thought about how appropriate a metaphor a storm is concerning the loss of a child. Storms are intense, violent and destructive forces of nature that are indifferent to our seemingly insignificant lives. Losing a child fills you with intense feelings that roil like the waters stirred up in the wake of a storm. Much like a storm initially bellows with a surge of water, the loss of a child fills you with a deluge of despair, and anger. And just as we are powerless to stop the tidal surge from a storm, a parent who loses a child is powerless to fortify themselves against the raw emotions that ravage their souls. The turbulent, storm fueled, wave of despair fundamentally disrupts the natural rhythm of our emotions just as a storm surge disrupts the natural tidal flow.
We all have ups and downs in regards to our emotions: a natural ebb and flow of happiness and sadness, elation and despair. Many times this natural flow has no discernible cause leaving us with merely a recognition of the effect. Tides are much the same: we clearly see them rise and fall, but we cannot discern the the pull of the moon’s gravity which lead to their genesis. When you lose a child the natural ebb and flow of emotion is magnified exponentially and the loss surges through your very core like the flood waters of a storm. The effect is powerful, raw and, at least initially, unrelenting.
Fortunately, just as the flood waters recede back into the ocean after a storm has passed, the emotional surge from this loss recedes as well, revealing the damage to the landscape. For myself the damage has come in the form of an acute recognition of the ebb and flow of my emotions. My high tides are no higher, perhaps less so, since Rees died, and my lows are much, much lower. I used to be so even keeled that I never really noticed my emotional fluctuations. The storm surge literally made me take note of the changes in my emotional tides.
Since the dawn of the recognition of the tides and their cyclical nature, mankind has harnessed that ebb and flow for its own benefit – and once again I will take my cue from nature. I vow to ride the high tides to new heights that I never reached before, and I will take advantage of the lows – using them as a barometer by which to measure my own happiness. The other night when I witnessed the beauty of families participating in games and events built around Rees’ legacy I was riding high on the tide. I still am. I know that the big wave that Rees’ legacy is creating is forming, somewhere out there right now. I realize now that the high tides create the waves we can ride to shore, and though it may be more difficult to catch that big wave, I will be forever on the look out for it; ready to ride it all the way, knowing Rees will be right there with me when it comes my way.