I saw you there.
I was standing on the beach, enjoying the warmth of the sun and listening to the rhythmic beat of the waves as they crashed onto the shore. The wind was strong, carrying a coolness that countered the heat from the noontime. Seagulls floated up on the warm drafts, hovering over the shoreline before diving down into the water after a tasty morsel of some sort. I saw you there.
You were standing beside me. No wheelchair, no cane, just you. You faced the ocean with me, your hair tied back with a few strays whipping in the wind across your face. You looked at me and smiled, a devilish grin if ever there was one.
“What the fuck are you doing here, brother-dear?” she asked me, adding a laugh at the end that made me smile. “I mean, why are you STILL here?”
I tried to respond, but the words wouldn’t come. They stopped at the top of my throat, choking me slightly. My smile faded as I realized you weren’t beside me anymore. You had moved effortlessly towards the shoreline. I made a move to catch up, but my feet were stuck in the sand, holding fast to my ankles. I looked up again and you were standing in front of the waves.
“Haven’t you learned anything? You need to go. You need to move on” You stepped into the water, the first wave crashing into your legs. The second coming to your waist. You looked back at me and smiled again, shouting over the crashing waves. “I love you, but you need to go!” The final wave came, crashing over your head and you disapeared beneath the waves. The seagulls seemed to cackle a bit overhead.
I could feel the tears again, running down my cheeks. The wind was suddenly silenced and the waves ceased. A crushing pain enveloped me, burning pain where my heart and soul should be. I crumbled to the sand, sobbing.
Waking up then, I could still feel the sand under me, still smell the salty air and hear the distant call of seagulls. I fumbled in the darkness for the light, finding none, I sat on the edge of the bed, staring into nothing. The pain in my chest subsided, the tears ran dry. I could hear your words resonate in my head. I knew what you meant. I know what I have to do. I can’t live the way I have been.
I’m terrified of making that move. The unknown, the unpredictable, the craziness…part of me wants something new, something outside my routine and outside my comfort zone. I need my sister here to kick me in the ass. If nothing else, the inertia of being thrust forward by my sister’s foot would be a great help in getting over my fears, my self doubt. I need you, I miss you.
I drove to the beach in the dark. The sun was barely starting to makes it’s presence felt on the distant horizon, turning the sky purple, the stars still denying it was morning. I sat on the beach, feeling the real sand beneath my feet and between my toes. I sipped my coffee, enjoying the beat of the waves and the morning birds hovering over the surf. Your voice came again to me, softer this time, not struggling to be heard over the waves. You whispered, “Move on.”
I closed my eyes and pictured your infectious grin.
I brushed off my feet and hopped in the car. I hope I have the strength you think I have. Starting the motor, I looked back down at the beach.
I saw you there, waving.
I turned my car out of the beach and headed on down the road