How I Kayaked Through Grief’s Choppy Waters

After my brother died, our family’s love kept me on course

Sarah Paris

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Photo by Dim Hou on Unsplash

An overwhelming peace and exhilaration raced from my toes to my fingertips. I dipped a cupped hand into the still, cool water and watched the ripples form. A small fish leaped from the watery depths over my kayak, and a pelican glided on the reflective surface ahead. I inhaled the sweet, humid air and paddled furiously from the dock. As the paddle carved into the blue glass of the Severn River, I felt like I’d kissed heaven.

In kayaking terminology, tracking is the kayak’s ability to maintain its course based on the strength of its design. A high-tracking boat will continue to move on course regardless of obstacles. Despite the chaos the past year had brought my way, as I paddled down the river, I felt like a high-tracker. But I stared down at the waves my paddle created, and wondered how I could ride the turbulent waters in my life.

And then the reality of why I was there, in Annapolis, Maryland, bowled me over. I could feel my lungs squeeze together; I tried to swallow the boulder of grief lodged in my throat. My boat spun around and threatened to capsize.

My sweet, encouraging, intelligent little brother was dead.

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Sarah Paris

Author of Signs My Toddler Has a Drinking Problem (humor collection).Freelance writer of all things. Looper features writer. Believer. Adventurer. Semi- funny.