The Sandbox

Amnesia, Art, Healing






5:11 AM


It is the last morning on the Big Island, and I learn here that you cannot leave a roaring meditation back at home; it swims with dolphins, it hikes alongside ironwood trees and follows me in my sleep. I wake this morning knowing, though, that I have hidden it all, the triggering I feel inside when I smell certain flowers, the tiny girls, the grains and shards, who come to me. Peter says how much he enjoys just being with me, and I realize … I’ve not been very present at all. 

Throughout the night Monkey is screeching and crashing. He discovers Eileen living under a frozen pond, so he starts skating on the ice. He removes his skates and begins jumping hard, making all sorts of racket. He hauls out a drill and starts going at the pond, struggling and sweating with all his might to break through. He wants in, he wants a relationship with her. 

She’s been reading the Sandbox all week and emailing me, but I fear down to mytree roots that I will wind up a fish flailing, caught in a net of dependency, unable to ever escape. The familiar pain of needing and bracing against everything I need is killing me, an endless tug of war. 

Will it all ever fit comfortably? Will I ever find my peace?

I look up through the palm trees and toward the ocean; the sun has risen, but the moon still hangs full in the sky. Night and day, I see, can nap together in the same hammock. 

I grasp this moment and hold it tight. 



6:04 AM


I see Eileen once before she leaves for three weeks for Christmas. 

She tells me that even though she is leaving, she’ll continue reading the Sandbox. 


I ask why, and I am told … personal reasons. 

When I pursue an answer, she says she loves my writing. She adds that she gets a lot out of it — personally and professionally. She then pauses, nods her head and says that I am so down to earth, so understated. 

No one, she says, would ever suspect. 

Suspect what, I wonder? 

But deep down I know. The Sandbox has become a brilliant solution and home for us both. Deep down I do not really wonder. I know what she means is that I am different. 

I am special. 

I am, for the first time, being told I am talented.

It is dark outside, and the tiny light in her office casts shadows and warmth. I do not believe I’ve ever felt happier in my life. I am on top of the biggest mountain my heart could have ever imagined, more celebrated than ever before. 

I am … special.

And as if that were not enough, Monkey’s E-box Christmas gift for Eileen could not have gone over better. It’s a tiny E shaped sandbox that I made in ceramics class with little boxes to hold the sand.

 Eileen is thrilled beyond the stars and the moon.

I found the sand in Hawaii.  And thought of her so much when we were on the beach. I am special. 

And she is the most special person ever, right back.