Guest Column: Down the Shore & the Passage of Time

Sue DeGregorio-Rosen, Photographer


by Sue DeGregorio-Rosen, RN, CLNC, Contributing Editor


Down the shore. *

The indelible presence of a person where sorrow intersects with wonder is haunting. The haunting is both psychological and physically real. And there appears to be no expiration date.

Anguish and joy overlaps. I tried to understand and listen to the sounds of my own melancholy. I had to write it down on a sheet of paper to understand better. So, I did and addressed it to you.

My Dearest Friend,

I was so drawn to you when we first met. Your heart was closed and, mine was open, yet we shared a silent compassion.  You whispered to the trees, and I laughed with the flowers.  You took my hand and held it to your heart.  I could feel you.

You were sensitive and thoughtful, you made me fall in love with sunsets and then with you.  You were my love, my first love, and there was no way to break that spell.  I said yes to the fire that burned in my heart as you took me, gently, and the rules of the game were yours, the sweat that trickled down my breast, the fire and burn that I felt from your touch.  I didn’t know that your nourishment of pain was the cloak you wore. I didn’t know that you would die.

The triumph was all yours, you opened my petals like a flower in bloom.  You told me that one lifetime was not enough to taste the fullness of life and love. And then you died, right there, and I was left facing that pain with no one to turn to or trust.

A part of me was gone with you.  I was waiting to let time create that distance between you and me when my heart was pierced.  I didn’t know how to help you to survive. 

Then it happened three weeks later.  I drove down the shore with my sister and my kids, and as I spread my blanket on the sand, I felt a tight hold around me. Arms, strong arms, had me.  I could see my sister with my kids getting some drinks, I saw her turn to look my way.  I couldn’t move, my sister was running towards me……and just then you let go of your grip, like nothing bad had happened, like you were just there, and I turned and looked into your eyes. I saw you, as a ghost, a spirit, and I was awakened to your connection, as you faded away……….. I felt awakened and confident with courage enough by my own belief in you, in your spirit. Your shadow lay in the darkest of night, I whisper to you to remember you are made of rain-soaked clouds. And I accepted nature’s translation of you. Afterwards, you would talk to me in dreams, until I asked you , after ten years, to stop coming to me in my dreams. And you did.

*Down the shore” is a New Jersey term that means we are going to the beach somewhere along the Atlantic Ocean..