Jeannie Bruenning Author

Sand Dollars

There is a large glass vase that sits on my fireplace. It has the words Lest You Forget etched into it. It’s meant to be a marker, a way of remembering.

We need markers in our life to help us remember. As young parents we forget what it was like to be a kid. As parents of teens we forget the stupid stuff we did that taught us life lessons. As mature adults we forget the mistakes made that allowed us to become mature adults.

When we first moved to California, I spent a lot of time collecting sand dollars, seventy to be exact. They weren’t just any sand dollars, they had to be perfect; no cracks or missing backs. I brought them home, wash them and let them bleach in the sun. Then, I carefully laid them in the jar. This jar and its 70 perfect sand dollars was a marker to me of life prior to California.

Two Fridays ago I had an nagging feeling all day that I had forgotten something. It wasn’t until evening when it dawned on me that exactly ten years ago on that day, I had flown into San Luis Obispo, CA for the first time. A decade, my mind immediately began recalling all that had happened in those ten years.

It wasn’t an easy decade by any stretch of the imagination. There was an enormous amount of change, health issues, loss of career, financial loss, and family tragedy. The images that filled my head were not of celebration but of pain. And then suddenly, there was the image of a large glass vase filled with sand dollars and it no longer marked life prior to California, rather our first decade here.

The next day we packed a small cooler, a shovel, and a large glass vase filled with dusty sand dollars and Jeff and I headed to the beach.

We parked and Jeff took the shovel and began digging a hole while I retrieved the cooler and poured two glasses of wine. When both tasks were complete, I pick up the glass vase and held it for a moment as if placing all the sadness I had been reminded of into it. I then carefully tipped it over and seventy, once perfect, sand dollars spilled out.

As the last of the dollars landed I couldn’t help but notice the perfect, white, brilliant ones that now laid on top of the pile. “And there it is,” I thought. “That’s the full circle.” Surrounded by faded, dusty and broken sand dollars were beautiful white perfect ones, so breathtaking that I had to stop myself from retrieving them.

I had been remembering the loss and had forgotten that it was only because of the loss that life is now more amazing and wonderful than I could have ever imagined…and I have a big imagination.

Jeff covered the hole and we toasted to the past, to lessons learned, and to all that lay ahead of us in 2018 and beyond.

…There is a large glass vase that sits on my fireplace. It has the words, Lest You Forget etched into it. It’s meant to be a marker, a way of remembering…it’s waiting to be filled.

 

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