Coping with the loss of my dad is probably the biggest Lady Lesson I’ve learned over the past two and a half years. I wrote this story a few months ago when I was having a particularly rough “I miss my daddy” day. It’s lived in my journal since then, glanced over maybe once of twice. Earlier this week, I met a lovely woman who recently lost her father and decided to share it with her.

I want to share it with you.

Thank you for reading.

-Jadey Lady

The Traveler 

By Jade Waters-Burch, Age 25

The Traveler walked every day, headed toward a future certain and clear. All of her life, she has taken this road. Step by step she moved toward her destiny, her companion by her side. She was certain. She was sure. And so she walked.

One day, her companion was taken from her, in an instant, without warning. She was alone, without a plan, without the comfort of his presence. She searched and searched for her companion, desperate for his wisdom, his consolation, his assurance that everything is alright, that nothing had changed.

Her search was in vain. He wasn’t coming back. He was gone. The Traveler wept for his absence. She wept and wept her sea of tears. She wept and wept until she fell asleep, unaware of where she was or what she was doing.

She woke after an eternity to find herself at the bottom of the sea she created. Who knows how long she’d been down there, numbed by her despair. All that was certain was she needed to get out. She couldn’t breathe.

The sea was so dark and suffocating. She didn’t know which way was up. She swam and swam, yet the darkness didn’t fade. How she longed for her companion, her all knowing companion. This never would have happened before he disappeared. What should she do?

Engulfed in darkness, exhausted and sad, the Traveler gave up hope. She stopped swimming and started sinking back to the bottom of the sea. She braced herself for the dark, the cold, the inability to breathe. With one final kick she let go and fell behind.

Just as she did something caught her eye. Light! It was light. Bright, inviting and growing larger! She felt a burst of hope and began to swim towards it, faster and faster! Finally she reached toward the light and felt a breeze. Air! The surface! She hurled herself forward with one final kick and inhaled the most invigorating air she had ever breathed. She was alive again. The chill in her bones began to dissipate as she turned towards the bright light that guided her to safety.

The brightness, with its rays of light and warmth falling on the Traveler, was the Sun. The Sun she had known all of her life. And yet, it was different this day. Today it was wise, comforting. It let her know everything was alright. That nothing had changed.

The Sun was her companion.

He didn’t speak, he didn’t reach out to her, but he did shine light on the shore, which was not far from the Traveler.

Safely on land, the Traveler looked to the sea she called home. It was not large at all, but it was dark and she knew all too well that it was deep. So long as she had her companion, she stayed away from the sea. She didn’t know where to go, but she knew to stay away from there.

The land was barren. Nothing in sight for miles. Where to go? Where is her path? The Traveler grew frustrated as she learned of her companion’s limited accessibility. He couldn’t talk, so she had to make decisions on her own. Sometimes he’d disappear behind the clouds, plunging her into darkness, save for his gift of twinkling stars. In those cold dark moments, she pondered going back to the sea. What’s the point of leaving if my companion leaves me in this new darkness? And every time she turned back, the sun began to rise, bringing its bright warmth upon her.

The Traveler learned that her companion Sun always came back. He always came running when she needed him most. And though he couldn’t hold her or speak, she knew he would always be there for her, day after day until it was her turn to leave. She accepted his new form and cherished every second with him.

One night as she was sleeping, her companion came to her in a dream. He appeared in his true form, familiar and inviting. He said to her “I’m sorry I left you. I didn’t want to. I can’t be there for you the way you want me to, but I will always be here for you the best way I can. I am proud of you. I love you.”

“I will always be here,” he said.

The Traveler ran to him, threw her arms around him and held on as tightly as she could.

“I love you,” she said.

The next morning, the Traveler awoke with a new sense of purpose and direction. She walked confidently, uncertain of exactly where she was headed, but certain she was protected. Her journey began again.

Along the way, she met other travelers. Sometimes they shared their journeys, sometimes they shared companions, sometimes they became each other’s companions. The Traveler learned that there was no certain path, no final destination. Just a journey away from the sea. A journey full of other travelers and companions, walking and walking one day at a time.

As she reached the end of her journey, the Traveler reflected on all the companions she had made. Some were still with her, some had left, but all had made a difference in her along the way. She found her way back to the sea and thought about how far she had come. She smiled and dove in. The sea felt different this day. It was warm and bright. She looked up to her companion Sun and saw his face. “I can’t wait to see you,” he smiled.

The Traveler swam and swam and with one final kick, became the bright light. And from that moment forward she shined down on all of the Travelers still on their journeys.

The End.

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