Shannon Leone Fowler Accepts the Darkish Facet of Nature

Shannon Leone Fowler Accepts the Darkish Facet of Nature
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Shannon Leone Fowler shared her story with producer Tanvi Kumar for an episode of The Day by day Rally podcast. It was edited for size and readability.

We have been within the water collectively. We have been truly kissing. My legs have been wrapped round his waist and he felt one thing. One thing had bumped my thigh. He jumped and he dropped me and ran to the seashore. No matter had bumped my thigh felt huge. It felt stable. It felt heavy.

My identify is Shannon Leone Fowler. I’m initially from California, and I now reside in London with my three youngsters. I’m a marine biologist and a author. I’m at present finding out seabirds in Alaska. I additionally write non-fiction.

Once I was 28 years outdated, I used to be midway via my PhD in marine biology. And my fiancé on the time, was named Sean. We had solely simply gotten engaged.

We ended up going to Thailand the place he wished to go. And we have been on the island of Ko Pha- ngan. That is August of 2002.

We have been within the water collectively. I assumed a stingray had nudged me, and that Sean had stepped on it as a result of my legs have been wrapped round his waist, in order that they weren’t touching the sand. So I assumed he’d been stung by this stingray. I’d been with individuals who’d been stung by stingrays earlier than, it’s extremely painful.

We went to the shore and he was sitting down on the seashore, and he stated that he was having bother respiratory and that his head felt heavy and he wished me to go get assist.

The sunshine was fading at this level. It was about nightfall. There was a bar not far down the seashore, so I began to run for assist and I turned again about midway and he’d collapsed face first into the sand. That was the primary second that I assumed, “That is severe.”

Plenty of folks adopted me from the bar. We tried to do CPR, we tried to present him mouth-to-mouth. I used to be screaming for an ambulance. There was clearly no ambulance on Ko Pha-ngan, however he was taken at the back of a truck to a clinic. They labored on him for 20 minutes, and he was pronounced useless on arrival.

Sean was stung by a field jellyfish.

That was the tip of my life in loads of methods. I used to be a 28-year-old marine biologist. We’d been engaged for 10 days. I simply had came upon I used to be pregnant, which was a shock, and we have been nonetheless form of wrapping our heads round it.

I may see my complete life with him and the youngsters we’d have, and the grandkids we’d have. Residing in Australia collectively, and dealing as a marine biologist. And in an absolute instantaneous, all of that was gone.

I miscarried 4 days later on my own in a resort room in Bangkok, and I misplaced the ocean. I didn’t know that I’d ever get it again at that time. I had cherished the ocean my complete life, and I [now] hated the ocean.

I didn’t contact the water for a 12 months. I didn’t know if I’d ever return to marine biology. I didn’t know if I’d end my PhD. It is mindless. And I’m a scientist. I are typically fairly rational. However I felt betrayed by the ocean. I felt like I had given my life to the ocean, and the ocean had completely betrayed me.

I believe America is a tradition that doesn’t cope with grief very properly. We wish to [turn it into a] cliché, we wish to [give it] a silver lining. We wish to slap a bandaid on it and assume every part’s going be OK. I discovered that very painful and really troublesome once I was going via it.

I discovered myself in Jap Europe, in international locations that handled loss of life and grief very otherwise, rather more overtly, rather more matter-of-factly.

I went to Sarajevo in 2002. Town was very visibly scarred. There have been buildings that have been simply demolished, nonetheless rubble. Some issues had very deliberately been left that manner. One of many issues that Sarajevans did was fill in mortar blasts the place folks had died with crimson resin. And so you’ll see these cracks within the pavement, these small explosions, these scars within the pavement full of crimson. They might name them Sarajevo roses. I believe that could be a stunning and tragic manner of remembering. You’re not going to re-pave it. You’re going to mark it. Each time somebody walks by, they’re going to know that someone died there.
The best way they handled the tragedy that that they had suffered via was making it into artwork, making magnificence out of grief. It was a little bit of a turning level for me. Horrible issues occur, however that doesn’t imply that life can’t be stunning afterwards. It doesn’t imply that for all times to be stunning, you possibly can’t acknowledge the darkness and the horrible issues which have occurred. And typically acknowledging the darkness is gorgeous.

On the 12 months anniversary of Sean’s loss of life, I booked a protracted weekend to Noosa in Australia, which is a surfer’s place on the East Coast. I assumed I used to be going to go within the water on the 12 months anniversary. So I rented a surfboard, and I went in and I went beneath, and I got here up and nothing modified. By some means I assumed on the anniversary, I’d enter the water and I’d be cleansed, I’d transfer on. However I went beneath and every part was the identical.

A few months after that, I went to Vanuatu and I went scuba diving for the primary time since Sean had died. And there was one second the place rapidly I felt like I may breathe. There was a single inhale, and it felt like I’d stuffed my lungs for the primary time in a 12 months and two months.

It nonetheless took me some time to essentially wish to be across the ocean. I believe one of many issues that in all probability helped is being a biologist. I examine nature. And animals kill one another. It’s a part of what occurs. And I suppose I discovered to simply accept that there’s darkish and lightweight and which you could love the sunshine and be taught to cope with the darkish.

I did end my PhD. I do love the ocean once more. I actually do. It’s a distinct form of relationship. It’s in all probability extra lifelike, extra mature. I believe loads of us have in all probability cherished issues which have darkish elements. The ocean is extremely highly effective and one thing to be revered.

I attempt to not use phrases like transfer previous and even get better from, as a result of Sean’s loss of life has been integrated into my life, and it’s such an infinite a part of who I’m. There’ll at all times be this huge gap in my coronary heart. I nonetheless take into consideration him daily. I miss him daily.

I believe my greatest lesson is that I really feel that it’s a must to discover your personal path via grief, and the way you’re going to reside with that loss. In some methods I’m not going to be OK, and that’s OK. When you had instructed me 20 years in the past that I’d be sitting right here having an interview 20 years after he died and nonetheless not be capable of get via it with out crying, I believe I’d’ve discovered that devastating. I’m OK with that. It’s simply the way in which it’s. Life, in my view, is just not truthful, and it’s not at all times straightforward. Life might be stunning and it may be devastating, and typically it may be each of these issues abruptly.

Shannon Leone Fowler is a marine biologist, author and single mother of three younger youngsters. She at present lives in London and research seabirds in Alaska. Her memoir Touring With Ghosts is out now. You possibly can be taught extra about her at shannonleonefowler.com.

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