This morning, amidst the crowded walkways flooded with apprehensive kids making their way to classrooms, and eager parents dropping them off, I thought, just for a second, that I saw my sister.  In that flash, I saw her beaming smile and high fashion sunglasses walking towards us, and I instantly anticipated her excitement to see my daughter in her new school, the love and the joy that would gush over all three of us.

But it wasn’t her.  And as the throng of other smiling, fashion forward moms streamed past me, I remembered that she is too far away to be here, and that she wasn’t going to see my daughter in her new school.  I tried desperately not to cry.

I’ve done a damned fine job of holding it together for the last few months.  All holy hell was breaking out around me as I left, and yet I got out of bed every day, put on my big girl pants and wrapped myself in another layer of packing tape so that I could make it to this place … The Other Side.  And I’m here.  And the packing tape is starting to come unstuck.

My sister and I left on good terms, but we were both battle scarred.  Together we had built a business, one that was designed to bring light and love into our community, and it did just that.  But when it came to our relationship the business took its toll, and in the end it almost tore us apart.

Ultimately, I was hurt and she was busy.  We made amends because there was no other choice.  Our final days together weren’t filled with bonding over coffee or spending time playing with each other’s kids.  Instead, we just lingered on the edges of connection… the random small talk, the awkward hug.

The walk home from school is a blessed stroll along the shore.  We’re in a temporary house for one more week, so I know that I need to soak up every ounce of this return trip home.  I like to believe that the salt water is detoxing my being, the sand is filtering out my leaking energetic impurities.

Every day we see something new and amazing.  Yesterday’s find was an unfortunate decomposing porpoise…yum. Today, however, was sand strewn with sand dollars. Until this morning, the only sand dollars I had ever seen were bleached white, and mostly broken, but here there were purple ones. These were whole delicate circles, cast in a violet color radiating out towards lavender, with a five point star etched in the middle.

Sand dollars are a species of burrowing sea urchins, with their skeleton made up by a five fold pattern known as a ‘test’. They live in the sandy bottom area and are found mostly together, due to their preference for soft sand believed to be ideal for reproduction.

Each of the purple ones that I had collected were whole, no broken pieces, no battle scars… but still delicate, and still living.  All of the white ones that I picked up, and there were many of them, had pieces missing or disintegrated when I touched them. They had moved on.

Maybe we are like sand dollars. We start out beautifully colored, delicate and grouped with others like us. We are whole and hopeful and strong. But ultimately the tide of life carries us to other destinies, and in the process we lose parts of ourselves. Ultimately we find new shores to populate and beautify but we break, we lose parts of ourselves and we die.

Maybe it is time for the tape to come off. Maybe holding myself together for the last few months got us here in one piece, but now I’m actually more delicate and I need to lose some pieces or I will eventually disintegrate.

As life would have it, it wasn’t until after I collected the purple sand dollars that I realized that I had plucked living beings from their home. Because of me, they now will turn white in the sun, yet unnaturally remain whole.