Beautiful Wave

The contemplation of what activity clenches the jaws, contracts the abdominal muscles and furrows the brow of any woman of a certain age?  Considering what action fills her brain with anxiety and her heart with trepidation?  What thought incites a riot of classic avoidance behavior?

Buying a bathing suit.

My own avoidance behavior is such that my one bathing suit, purchased in 1995 in Kauai, bears the marks of several seams resewn and holes darned by my hand.

But I was heading off to California on vacation and had determined that the Vixen Divorcee deserved a fresher image.  Too that end, on a rainy Saturday in early June I convinced my friend, Susie, that our time would be best spent shopping for beach wear.

By crossing the threshold of Nani Nalu Beachwear Boutique, we left behind the chilly, dreary midwestern day and plopped down in Aruba.  Or Jamaica.  Or Key Largo.  Or anyplace with palm trees, exotic birds and bright colors.

The ambience also lulled me into confident optimism.


I pulled suit after suit off the rack, contemplated them at arms distance, shook my head and hung them back up.  The sympathetic eyes of the clerk when she approached me communicated commiseration with the deep resistance my body language expressed.

“May I be of service?” she asked.  “I’m here to make this a fun experience.”

Making buying a bathing suit a fun experience?  In what universe would that ever happen?

In mine, as it turned out.

I told her the size of my bra cup and slacks and ten minutes later she escorted Susie to a lounge area with couches, magazines and big mirrors and me into a fitting room lined with a dozen tankinis, those newer two piece suits which, my assistant assured me, would discretely cover my middle and lend lift and support as required at my age.

I loved almost every suit I tried on.  Susie responded with careful observations about the style, color and fit of each of them.  I eliminated a few and then started back through the five remaining possibilities.  After 45 minutes, we decided that the one with the raspberry and white striped top and solid raspberry bottom miraculously combined femininity, sexiness and modesty into one garment and was the perfect choice.

The shop owner explained that nani nalu means “beautiful wave” in Hawaiian, and that was exactly what the experience felt like.  The vibrant colors of the shop, the graciousness of each woman who worked there, my joy at feeling attractive and the loving patience and encouragement of my good friend washed over me just like a beautiful wave.

As we settled over lunch and a glass of wine, Susie said, “I’ve been looking forward to talking with you today.  I want to bring you up to date on my health.”

Susie has been dealing with a persistently annoying health issue for the last six months.  Her doctor hasn’t found the cause despite several visits and tests.  This was old news.

What wasn’t old news was that one of these tests revealed a mass of cells growing where no mass should be.

Susie’s husband had been out of town on business since last Tuesday.  The test results came Thursday morning.  We were having lunch on Saturday afternoon.

Between Thursday morning and Saturday afternoon, this friend of mine had been alone with her fear of cancer.  I leaned over and squeezed her arm.  We looked at each other, both of us with tears gathering behind our eyelids.  I was thinking of how incomprehensible and unacceptable it would be if anything was seriously wrong with Susie.  Then another thought hit me, along with concern over her health, sadness about her being alone with her fear and my sense of inadequacy because for three days I didn’t know about the challenge she was facing.

The thought was that she had just indulged my pirouetting  and posing for 45 minutes while pain, fear and loneliness gnawed at her heart.  At that moment, a second beautiful wave of love washed over me for my dear friend.

10 thoughts on “Beautiful Wave

  1. I’ve got a dear friend who has cancer that has come back with a vengeance after 15 years. When I see her, she asks me what books I’ve read, what movies I like … anything to get her mind off of the awful reality. Other friends facing terrible situations also find solace in doing things like – talking about our silly grown children and food. So looking at swimsuits and dreaming of oceans may have been exactly what Susie needed…

    • Hi Margaret: We are lucky to be able to offer solace to those we love. That’s the thought that, like you, I hang onto. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Georgia, my heart is breaking. But I know in that heart that you would have done the same for Susie and that your life force is there for her – always.

    • Hi Lady Murasaki: Thank you for your empathy. You’re right that I will be present for my friend when she needs me, but I don’t know that I can match the generosity of her heart.

  3. How many times have I wished that I could have a “do over” on a conversation? We do the best we can at the time with the information we have……that’s my consolation…..and I try not to beat myself up too much after the fact.

  4. What a great story. You accidently gave your friend the gift she needed. As survivor of cancer and more recently heart failure, I am often exhausted by how narcissistic I feel when thinking about all the treatments and attentions that come with the health issues. I’d much rather be shopping for swim suits with you Georgia.

    • Hi Currious: Thanks for your thoughts. However, I think this swim suit will hold me for at least another 5 years, if not more.

      Are these health issues still part of your life, or are they safely in the past?

      • Health issues can help you become very focused on the here and now. So the answer is no. I will live with them the rest of my life. But for today, here and now, the sky is blue, the breeze is warm and I have an LG (Life’s Good) logo on my office wall. It doesn’t get any better than this. (Ah, maybe it does. I’d like swim suit shopping with Georgia in 2017.)

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