A Simple Path – To Leaving It on the Ocean Floor | The BridgeMaker

A Simple Path – To Leaving It on the Ocean Floor

By on May 06, 2012

“Forget regret or life is yours to miss.” ~ Jonathan Larson

Every now and then our baggage can surface when we least expect it.

Shame, resentment, bitterness, and guilt can pop up and surprise us. Our baggage seems to glisten even brighter when we try to look away. Before we know it, the things we have left in the past are standing before us – taunting us with their presence; stealing our happiness.

Wine, friends and a surprise attack

Mary Beth and I went to another couple’s house for wine, food and conversation last night. After a busy month promoting my book, I welcomed the chance to enjoy some Merlot while reconnecting with friends.

In the course of rewinding our lives, Mary Beth mentioned my brother died last October. I could feel the tension swell the more I talked about Eric’s death.

To help me deal with losing my brother, I’ve been seeing a grief counselor. The counselor is helping me reframe how I feel; she’s helping me leave my guilt on the ocean floor: Why did he lose his leg and I didn’t; why did he struggle financially and I didn’t; why did he die so early and I didn’t?

But I didn’t do well dealing with his death last night. Last night the guilt ascended from the ocean floor and swept me away. The surprise attack was complete.

A Sunday morning prayer

As soon as the sun peeked through the curtain, I woke. With Mary Beth still sleeping, I stepped quietly to the kitchen. I poured a cup of coffee and headed to the deck. Rain was advancing from the west while the sun was beaming in the east. Conflict was mounting as nature waited for resolution. I felt caught in the middle.

My thoughts returned to last night. A moment of simple enjoyment was interrupted by guilt’s stealth attack. Tired of what the guilt has been costing me, I closed my eyes and said a prayer.

I prayed for my brother’s soul. I prayed for peace to be with him, forever. And I prayed for my guilt to be left on the ocean floor – forever.

Sometimes the simple path to leaving our baggage on the ocean floor begins when we grow tired of the sneak attacks, the conflict it creates and the happiness it steals.

After praying, I sat a few moments longer enjoying the final sips of coffee as I watched the rain settle in from the west. The conflict was over.

A resolution had been reached.

What is A Simple Path?

This post is in A Simple Path, a series of short pieces inspired by my own life experiences. Each post is a simple path to experiencing something wonderful: maybe seeing life from a different perspective, or celebrating its beauty. Click here to read all posts in the series.

The BridgeMaker Founder Alex Blackwell is the author of Letting Go: 25 True Stories of Peace, Hope and Surrender. Join the community to connect, share and inspire: Twitter | Facebook | More Posts

  • Peter Eising

    thanks for a lovely piece, Alex. 
    We lost our 18 yo son Jamie in a tragic accident 5 weeks ago. 
    It’s still very raw at times, Grief is there -sneak attacks all the time; the reminders in everything he touched, his possessions, the unfinished projects, the wonderful memories, the expectations parents naturally have etc.It’s not easy as you’ve identified with your brother. There are no answers that will ever satisfy the question -why?
    Part of my family’s recovery I hope will in acceptance -whatever this means -in time, a re-framing of the emotions and memories. Life will never be the same, it has taken on a major shift -one that now doesn’t include Jamie as we knew and loved him. He is now in our hearts through the wonderful memories he left us, which do not seem enough.
    I keep asking myself -How can something positive come from a situation like this? It seems ironic that all life’s challenges can be re-framed in the positive, something to learn from; yet to look for something positive out of a tragedy like this -(i feels at my son’s expense), doesn’t feel right?
    In time I feel there will be an answer if I remain open and find true acceptance.
    Thanks for your posting, 

    •  Pete,

      I’m sorry for your loss. Even though I don’t know how you feel because I haven’t lost a child to death, I can empathize with you father to father. Sometimes things don’t make sense and sometimes life just plain sucks. But your son’s life made sense and that’s something to celebrate and remember forever!

      My prayers are with you and your family.



  • Loss is never easy, and you’d think we’d get better at it as we experience it more (and will) as we get older. As the saying goes, “I’ll get through it but never over it.” When dealing with my fathers sudden death, deep at the root was the reality of dealing with my own mortality. And that I wanted to be sure my father was OK with his place with God but then realized it was only my job to be a son. And thank God I could mourn and that a piece of me would forever be changed, colored differently. God had removed this piece of my heart, colored it differently and smoothed the jagged edges and then placed it back (for me it was a moment in the shower when I finally accepted the fact he was gone and totally lost it, the day after the funeral). Like stained glass, a different color but still in my heart…. if that makes sense.

    I still have a cooler of Dad’s things my mother gave me which I have yet to go through. Which was fitting since he loved his cooler of beer while fishing. Not sure why I haven’t opened it yet, I think I’ve mourned properly, but then what is proper? Some say give it a time limit, that at some point we’re choosing misery. That helps, except when it doesn’t.

    The sneak attacks are there. Moments when reality sneaks up and hits us in the back of the head; the reality that we’re never going to hear this person’s voice again, smell their smell, or feel the energy only they can bring into a room.

    My wife Emily and dearest friend, my “person” went in for an emergency appendectomy last week and before we knew what it was, that moment hit us. Are we going to be able to “walk the walk?” Live up to all this faith and happiness we talk about daily if something tragic happens to one of us? She has history of heart and cancer issues in her family so there was a moment there when the realness that it could be something bad really set in. Who knows, but we talk about it and give our wishes and support for each other in case something does happen.

    On the topic of “leaving it on the ocean floor” – I think I’ll take something out of that cooler and leave it on the ocean floor when my wife and I take a diving trip to Roatan in September. Something small I can inconspicuously sneak in my BCD pocket and bury under the sand. Maybe I’ll leave something there for your brother as well.

    •  Jared,

      Thank you for thinking of me and my brother. So glad Emily is fine. Stay strong in your faith Jared – I can certainly feel its strength!