The wind brushed against trees and woke the house. In the morning dark, it was clear that the day would only get colder, that fall was upon us, that long sleeves and rain boots were necessary.

On the speakers, the soothing rhythm of spiritual music. The children pulled themselves reluctantly from sleep. Another day. Another beginning. The routine starting over. Lunches made. Breakfast awaiting. The sun still nowhere in our view.

When Hemingway wrote of the Old Man and the Sea, it was in stark moments of a man and the ocean waves and the existential conversation with the self of survival, of being, of what it means to remain alive and what it takes. She remembered reading it, remembered turning each page expectantly, wondering if he would make it, living vicariously through the questions.

Hemingway once lived where she had been, trailing the lakeshore, the tall trees, the nice people in the tiny hamlets, because people are inherently kind when you flash them a smile. She, too, had been inspired, soothed, by the landscape, invigorated to live in a place of beauty and know its expansiveness.

Sometimes, you break the rules in order to survive, but really she always knew it was a question of thriving, not mere survival. In this part of the world, survival was all but a guarantee, and one taken for granted at that. But happiness, thriving, abundance, those were gifts, questions, hopes, never guarantees.

Hemingway knew that. It’s why he couldn’t bear to live on. The demons overtook him, and then his candle was out.

She’d never been so unhappy as to get to that precipice, but she knew people who had. And so when the morning began again, she climbed out of bed in the darkness, snuggled in beside the children to wake them with love, whispered I love you over and over again in their ears so their first conscious thoughts of the day were those of being so important and loved in this busy world.

She turned on the music that spoke to her soul. She made coffee in a cup with her name on it that she bought in 1989 because no one ever spells her name right. When you see it, you grab it.

There would be breakfast with her father and yoga at noon, in between pockets of work, and then the kids come home for a hug and a meal and a shower before beginning another holiday, a serious one this time, that they would spend with their father. Days rolled in and out like ocean waves, and she was so intent on capturing the essence of each, of really breathing in the scent, of being in it, letting it wash over her and then back out to sea again, to know that she had been in the midst of something rather than standing back on the shore and watching from a safe distance.

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