33 years of my 33 years have been spent in the Lowcountry of SC. I know no life away from the water. When Jake and I made the decision to move to GA last year my greatest fear was missing the water. He said "there are lakes in Georgia!". But it just isn't the same.
There's something about standing at the edge of the ocean and looking out into the endless nothingness and experiencing the paradox of feeling teeny weeny but with the knowledge that you're known by the very Creator of the oceans so intimately that He has the hairs on your head numbered. There's a vulnerability when the waves take your knees from underneath you that can only be matched by the weightlessness and freedom of allowing those same waves to carry you from the depths to the shore line. There is fear of the unknown every time something small nudges your ankles in the murky water and wonder and amazement when your muddy toes pull a living, thriving animal up into eyes view. And there's silence. The kind of silence where there are kids and adults all around you, swimming and playing and interacting and all you can hear is the crash of the waves. Then there's the river. And the smell. The salt. The sun. The pluff mud. The high and low tides. The shrimp. The crabs. The boats. The live oaks. The stories of generations and generations before us living off these waters and creating legacies for their families with nothing but a net and a john boat. The physical and mental healing of the salt water. It's in my blood. There's always been something about the water.
David loved the water. The beach was his favorite. But the pool, river, bath, shower, sink.....whatever the source was, he loved them all. Water was his peaceful place. The place where his mind and body weren't at war with one another. When we met him for the first time we gave him a little photo album of our family and some of our favorite things to do. The two pictures he ALWAYS went back to were the ones at the beach and at the pool. We went to the pool first. It was March, 2014. We went to Disney because well, it's a rite of passage and we knew he would love it. We put these enormous blue shark swimmies on his arms and Jake held him as he got used to the water. He was terrified. Cole and Zella were cheering and coaxing and I think I even remember a bribe for Swedish Fish for him to loosen his vice grip around Jakes neck and enjoy the water. He just couldn't do it. He didn't feel safe. He climbed up in the pool lounge chair and sat in my lap the rest of the afternoon, Swedish Fish in hand. A few weeks later we tried again. We went to the neighborhood pool every afternoon for almost 2 weeks. He started on the top step and just hung out there for what felt like eternity. Each day during the first week he progressed one step further. His pace and only his pace. Into week 2 he was getting frustrated. He WANTED to jump in. But fear. Finally one afternoon I couldn't handle watching him hem and haw anymore. So in the most inconspicuous of ways, I sat down on the steps next to him and accidentally gave him a little nudge off the bottom step. And he never looked back. The next months and the following summer the pool was his place. Those swimmies were like his extra appendages. Even on the bad days, the pool was one place where he didn't fight me or himself. He would jump right in and float and swim and just be. And somewhere in between all of those pool trips he learned to love the ocean. The sand never bothered him. He never took excessive interest in shell hunting or bird watching. He must have run his fingers through every grain of sand from Tybee Island, GA to Garden City, SC. He was a master with a shovel. He had his beach snack game on lock. And wave jumping. Wave jumping was his favorite. Maybe it was the waves, or maybe it was the anticipation and the conquering that he loved. But some of his purest laughs were bellowed on the beach. His favorite memories (anytime he was asked) were always about beach week with our family every year. Lots of cousins and laughter and chaos and food and the beach. Every day the beach. If every week could have just been beach week. There is just something about the water.
We have spent a lot of time by the water these last 13.5 weeks. The water, in it's various forms, has served as a much needed conversation catalyst as we try to even begin to grieve and mourn. Our good memories, the ones that we will bank and never withdraw, so many of them are by the water. In the days immediately following Davids passing, we were staying with my uncle down at the river. In the mornings I would take a walk down the dock and try to grapple with a new day. It didn't feel like there was mercy in the morning. It didn't feel like even the water could wash away any of my pain. And the truth is, it can't. Even the healing power of the salt and the cleansing of the smell of pluff mud can't make his little Vienna sausage fingers be intertwined with mine again. The water can't mend my broken heart......but the One that meets me there, He can. And He will. For all of us Kubnicks. Small and big. He meets us all there. And I feel certain that David is there too.
I was en route to the river today, and I heard this song.
I had me a little meltdown in the car and thought about how the tears are so different now. Some days are hard. No days are easy. But some days are harder. These last two weeks seem to have been full of the harder ones. But hard doesn't mean impossible. It just means hard. It means that some days we cry in public and some days we cry at night, holding the babies we have here on earth, as they cry with us. Hard means that some smiles are fake.....but it does NOT mean that no smiles are real. Hard means that there is a lot of sucking it up and pushing those tears back and making a conscious effort to choose joy over sorrow because truthfully the sorrow is too heavy to carry for even another day. But hard does NOT mean that there is no joy. There is so much joy. Hard means that we are quiet. It means that we fear going in public for having to answer questions. It means that we see people we know and we dodge them because we can't muster up one more lie when they ask how we're doing. But hard does NOT mean that we think we are the only ones with hard. Hard means that now we know. We know that we aren't the only ones. We know how much a prayer for someone that's hurting really means. We know how much grace is really needed. We now know how we have to give the most grace to the people that would never ask for it. We know now that hard means that everyone's life is different and everyone's hard is different and that it's all relative. And we now know how absolutely vital it is, that in the hard, we give thanks (Romans 5:3-5).
There is always always always something to be thankful for. And today, I am so thankful for that water, and that every single time I see the river, or a pool or the shoreline of a beach, I know I can go there to not only find peace, rest and my Jesus waiting for me, but that I can remember my David. There is no kind of hard that can take either of those things away, and I am so thankful for that.