It was the third day I had left the house, crossed the grass and made my way to the water. I pushed play on the music and it began to sing in my ears.
“God made people like me, to love people like you.”
I was pissed at God and all the Angels. The one I loved the most, the one I was made to love, was gone. My son Sage had unexpectedly died weeks before.
It was the third month and I was away and alone. I had retreated to a small town by the sea to be, feel, write, and to have a serious conversation with the Angels (my chat with God came much later).
I was in a deep relationship with my grief, loss, and anger. God and the Angels were my enemies and I was at war against them.
Why had they taken my son? How dare they! He was mine, I made him. I was made to love him.
And now, he was gone and I was at a loss with what to do with all that love and drowning in my emerging and persistent grief.
Despite my anger at Angels and my nauseating waves of grief, I was also in a deep relationship with love, the spirit realm, and magic. The divine felt closer than ever as my son lived there now.
“I will not not fight, I will not win this time, I will not live a little life.”
Before I made it to the water I heard these words singing in my ears, I will not live a little life. These words sung by Australian singer songwriter Clare Bowditch felt like they were being spoken directly to me. I not only heard those words, I felt them and in that moment I said yes, yes to not living a little life. I had no idea how I was going to achieve this out of the crumpled life I now dragged to the water, yet the feeling was undeniable. I will not live a little life rang in my ears and become a mantra. Fuck grief, if I was to stay earthbound without Sage I was not going to play small.
And in truth it was attempted, in small steps, a handful of stumbles, and a whole lot of leaping, running, crying, screaming and healing. I will not live a little life inspired my move to New York City, my acceptance of a new job and a new life, my various attempts at love and new relationships, and the forever seeking of the proof that I had made it. All moves made within and beyond the bonds of my broken heart, and beaten grief. In spirit form I could often be seen as the sassy gal with her middle finger up and extended in an aggressive salute to grief. I was going to make it damn it!
Another truth I held close, and for the most part held in secret, was my desire to die. This attempt at living without Sage was heavy and in my effort of reaching beyond a little life I achieved layers of unrest and felt little ease. My soul was sad and my secret desire was to lay down for the forever rest. Not only did this mean I could stop trying, it meant I could reconnect with my son, Sage. I did not have elaborate death plans or suicidal thoughts, I simply had a wish to die by magic. To one day be dead and for it to be a magical intervention.
And it was achieved. Not the death, but the magic.
As I surrendered my middle finger and lay my hand on my heart, I picked up all my broken pieces and stitched them together with what I knew would help. I began to share my story, to tell others the truth of my pain and the life I wished for myself. I stitched a thread every time I chose to meditate, go to a yoga class instead of a bar, and in the messy moments of ugly tears and the agony screams that cannot be heard but seen in the anguished face of the screamer. I surrendered and I stopped fighting.
“I will not not fight, I will not win this time, I will not live a little life.” sang Clare.
On the sixth death day anniversary of my son’s death I sat for day 6 of meditation at a 10 day meditation retreat. I sat with a peace that had not been with me for years. I surrendered my loss and opened my heart. I was surprised to find the embers of my death wish sitting at the base of my peace. I had not thought of my secret desire for years, yet the embers lingered. I sat and breathed into possibility. To truly surrender, to truly not life a little life, to remain earthbound and healing meant the embers needed water. The water of flowing emotion that allows the past to run the current of the river.
That day in meditation I fully released my anger, my grief, and my war with Angels and I vowed to do more than not live a little life, I vowed to live a BIG LIFE.
In the days that followed the retreat I flew south to the Caribbean Sea. I was ready to thread my big life together stitch by stitch, word by word. I had three weeks to be by the sea and to write my story. My imagining was days of writing, watching the waves, and soaking in the sea. My reality was more magical. On day three of my retreat in Tobago I met Smokey, a local fisherman with an open and generous vibe. Not immediately, yet over time, new embers began to glow in my heart. I would seek him each day. When he was not near I would chant quietly to myself, “The magic in me seeks the magic in you.” In time, he would arrive.
Not only was I open to magic, I was open to allowing someone in, even if for only a few weeks. An island romance seemed like a stunning way to begin my new big life. And it was only for a few weeks I told myself.
I was sure my big life was out there somewhere and my time in Tobago was the stepping stone to that life. It never occurred to me that my big life was being planted on one of the smallest islands I had ever been to. My mind would not allow that, as the big life, was out there, somewhere.
My heart had other moves. It cared little for what I should do and more for my new desire to be close to Smokey and call upon magic. I returned to the island within weeks, and then within weeks again. Just stepping stones I told myself.
Time with Smokey was a skip into a new realm. I have never met anyone like him and I reveled in the unknown of why I wanted to be so close to him. On the surface it seems we have little in common. I’m a city gal, he’s an island man. I like writing and reading books, he studies the clouds and the oceans. I grew up all over the world and was still seeking home, he traveled the world and chose to come home to his island. I like to go fast, he moves with measured steps and at times not moving at all.
Smokey is the lone werewolf and I am the witch. Never before had I met a werewolf, and this wolf was not inclined to be friends with witches. It appears we didn’t match, but we did melt. When a friend asked me why I was attracted to Smokey, all I knew was my heart told me to move closer to him. And that was my truth. My head told me all the stories of the life out there somewhere, and my heart told me to stay with him.
I also began to fall for the island. The simplicity of the sea, the sunsets, the pelicans and rainbows. I began to know its vibration, the people, the culture and it began to attract me just as much as a dazzling city life ever had. Bathing each day in the sea and watching the sunset with Smokey became my happy places.
On my third trip to Tobago I began to replay (on repeat) the mind tape of ‘why.’ My heart was beginning to surrender to Smokey so my head turned up the volume and a new war (or should I say, the tried and tested war) began. My head told me in clear terms that I had worked hard at healing, to washing away the embers and to committing to my big life, and it was simply crazy timing that days, post vow, I had met Smokey and his island. My mind warned me against getting caught in a corner, of missing my opportunity at grabbing the whole world, at investing in what seemed to be simply a mystical dream. And then my heart, and the Angels, would implore me to stay. It was the world-renowned tug of war between head and heart and no one was winning.
On the battleground one day I found myself alone, nursing cold beer and oscillating between thoughts and feelings. Smokey was busy pulling his boat out of the water to clean and prepare for the sea. I impatiently waited and gulped cold beer. With each swallow my heart sank a little and my mind sped up. I sat in the shade brooding and watching the methodical careful stroking of the boat as it was cleaned. I began to convince myself that here, in the shade of this tree, was my little life. It was obvious to Smokey that I was in a state of mind that was not to be approached. So he didn’t. This fueled my mind and the chatter of what I wanted to scream began to make its way onto the beach. I approach the boat, and no words come out. My heart steps in and says, ‘Shut up, let it be’. I stood there, beer in hand with war raging inside, silent.
Smokey stops and asks me to tell him straight (that’s a Smokey thing). I can’t say it was straight but my words did come tumbling out. I ranted about my death wish, the embers I had doused in water, my vow to have a big life, to honor my son, to be the best version of a grieving mother, to not settle…and then i said it, “Here I am with you, on a small island, with a vow for a big life, and I don’t think I can be with you here and have my big life.” That is when he stopped. Smokey looked at me and said, “But Deb, can you not have both?” That is when I stopped. I had never considered that my big life had already begun, laying itself at the feet of a small island and a werewolf.
I now know this to be true. The BIG LIFE I was seeking is not out there somewhere, it is within, for that is where the magic is. The BIG LIFE is led by LOVE and the heart holds the puzzle pieces and it is MAGIC that is the guide to discovering each step on the journey. Your BIG LIFE is waiting for your surrender to love and your co-creation with magic. For the magic you seek is seeking you.
There are no straight lines or easy answers. There are moments of ceasefire and surrender. There are days of magic and days of being with our shadow. There are always possibilities. In our own twisted way, Smokey and I found the balance of our beings, and in truth we seek that balance again and again.
Smokey and I have a magic pot. In the magic pot we place all our wishes and wants. Some of those live and will manifest in Tobago, some are in other corners of the world, and every one of them begins within us. On the trickier days I try to remember that it was my heart that led me to my love and my island life and magic is forever my guide. My new mantra reminds me, love is the leader and magic is the guide and to truly live a big life means surrendering to both.
My Big Life is being created NOW, with Smokey, with magic, and with a deeper surrender to my heart and the mastery of my mind. Big Life Magic is not my destination, it is my now.