How Sunrises Renewed My Life

“The sun is a daily reminder that we too can rise again from the darkness, that we too can shine our own light.” – s. ajna

For as long as I have lived on the east coast of Florida, I have had a love affair with sunrises.

For years, I was all about the sunset.

Yet, people change and so did I.

I can remember being a teenager living on the west coast and my father always being an early riser. I dreading him waking me on Saturday mornings to run errands. It would be the crack of dawn…and I usually felt imposed upon for whatever reason any teen aged person feels imposed upon…but every time I dragged myself from the bed, I had such a feeling of enlightenment and accomplishment by the time we completed our morning routine. At some point my dread began to shift toward enjoyment and I looked forward to those moments we shared.

I suppose this enjoyment embedded somewhere in my subconscious because being a Cancer sign, I should be a Moon Child (I am very much that too) but it really is the Sun that came to hold my greatest affection.

Fast forward decades…I think I finally came to realize how much I truly appreciated a sunrise was after the untimely death of my father in 2009. He was merely 57 and the realization that my father was cut down in the prime of HIS life was such a hammer to my spirit. My soul was simply crushed beyond all recognition.

I had always had such a love for life, was so good with the world and my place in it. Knowing how to find my sense of happy had never really been a problem. So to say I felt bereft was an understatement. I simply couldn’t wrap my mind around it and I simply saw only what I had to… I moved from moment to moment in a fog. I was sleep walking through life. I saw my children, their needs, my husband, my home, our household, my career…yet everything else had changed. I was living in a dormant state. Life had gone completely dark.

It was at this time that mommy life required me to drive my oldest daughter to school every morning. I would purposely take the route along the river. She liked it and it was the prettier drive. Yet as I drove, day after day…I began to noticed there was one thing that I saw through the darkness of my mind.

I saw sunrises.

I realized I saw them like I had never seen them before. Vibrant and warm, and while the colors would feel like shards of glass piercing my eyes through my tears, I saw them. I actually embraced feeling a pain that came from a place of beauty instead of grief. I clung to the rays as if they were my life line dragging me back into the living. There they were, right before me…and I saw them. Day after day, they came to me every morning, just as constant as my father’s love had been in my life. Without condition and I marveled at each and every one of them. Seeing them and somehow I felt as if they were seeing me too. Sending me the healing I needed with a gentle coaxing. Prodding me out of my foggish, dark place.

They were a daily reminder that I was alive! That while all I had ever know to be true had shifted madly off course…they were true and they were there.

They were true and they were there.

As the years passed from one to another, I began to leave earlier so my ever aging crew could actually stop to watch the sunrise with me before school and work. As I watched their joy with each morning, frolicking along the river or beach, I remembered back to my Saturday mornings with my dad m. Although the circumstances were far different, I knew I was embedding something deep into the subconsciousness of their minds. I told myself that in years to come, although they had seen me cry a thousand tears it would be balanced out by these beautiful moments. That one day, if they needed to reach far back to the recesses of THEIR minds, they would have the benefit of these magical moments we made together, much like my father and I had too.

Many, many years later and I am still in awe…

Fast forward almost nine years and it is still just as important to me as ever to get up in the morning to make my way to the water’s edge to watch the sunrise.

Be it along the river or the beach, it matters not.

I just need to find my balance and harmony before the hustle & bustle of the day takes over…and since this is still my place of peace, it really is just a given. Although it might not be with my kids every time, I still go. I still need to see. I still need to ensure that I don’t surrender myself to a place of darkness but rather recognize and meditate upon how anchored I am in my hope and happiness.

Sadie frolicking as the sun rises to greet us!

Just this past Christmas morning, I had such a calling. After all these years my family knows me so well, and I am forever grateful for their acceptance of my ways.

It is unspoken. They don’t question my need. They simply understand.

My need for calm, solace, and quiet moments even amidst frenzy. My deep need to see and rejuvenate. As they have grown and life pulls them in many different directions, they know they are welcome to join me or simple wait – either way is fine. They have done this with me for so long they have learned the day isn’t going anywhere and they happily take these quick journeys with me, even on a cold Christmas Morning. In the end, we are all better for it…my going to see and as a result, their seeing too.

Much like the birds, my heart takes flight.

This particular morning it was crisp out and before I stepped off the wooden planks out onto the open chilly sand, years of bare foot winter beach walking had my toes curling in anticipation! The girls squealed at the surprise of it and began running about, despite my warning them. We already knew it would be a spectacular sunrise even before we left the driveway. Abby had yelled through the screen door for me to hurry as she faced east watching the sky turn a warm pink glow. She urged me “hurry mom, it’s going to be a good one this morning and we don’t want to miss it!”

It’s one of the perks to living eight blocks from the beach, the ability to gauge the coming sunrise.

So it came to me as no great surprise that the Universe gifted us with a gorgeous sunrise on that very Merry Christmas morning.

It really was a present to be present and I stood there in awe, just like I have for years now. Seeing through my tears. Yet forever amazed at the wonder of it all…and like always, forever grateful to have come out of that place of darkness. Seeing and feeling an incredible surge of hope for each day and the vitality that it brings to my sense of being.

As I heard Abby squeal and watched Sadie frolic, much like the birds on the beach – my heart took flight because once again, I was truly grateful for the eternal energy of this daily phenomenon.

A sunrise.

Something so very simple, so sublime yet so incredibly spectacular and something that brought me back to life.

As always…


Go in love,


  • Cindee Bogart

    Really enjoyed this one, Hope. Very heartfelt. Made me tear-eyed. I miss the full sunrises now that we live away from the beach. But I do get to see partials every morning on my way to work, especially when I cross the highway overpasses (I get a better view from there). My soul needs to get back to the beach where I belong, whether here in Florida or on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. I need to connect back to nature (and my friends whom I miss dearly). I’ve been looking for places over there near you, so if you see or hear of anything, let me know. Keep writing, girlfriend! You’re inspiring me to get back to my own writing, which I’ve neglected for so long. Love you for that and so much more!

  • Lynne

    This is such a beautiful story of a woman’s strength. You’ve come into my life at the right moment. God sent you I believe. I worry constantly that when God decides he needs another Angel and my dad, my hero, is taken, I fear life. I fear my life will be over at that very moment. I cannot imagine not seeing his face in the flesh everyday. You have given me so much inspiration that you can see beyond. I am to be honest, terrified on a daily basis. He is not sick he’s actually quite healthy and energetic. More so than a lot of people I know…an amazing man who provided an amazing life. My Hero..”Then A Hero comes along, stands beside me and is strong and you know you can survive”. Blessed…Lynne (Brown Eyed Girl)

    • Hope Elizabeth Dutton

      Ohhh Lynne! Thank you for your beautiful comment! It brought me to tears! Ironic – I was the last to speak at my dad’s memorial and I really thought I wasn’t going to be able to. I thought after hearing the other speakers give their eulogies, between that and my grief, I would certainly break down in a crumpled heap before the nearly 600 people and everyone would have completely understood – only I didn’t…but part of what I spoke about was him being my first love & hero. Because for the fathers and daughters who have beautiful relationships it is truly life altering! So I know this loss and grief and while it is life altering to your world, there is still a grand life to be lived and our loved ones would want nothing less! ❤️

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