Saturday, September 26, 2009

Enough Reminders

Reminders abound – seize the day. Enjoy the moment.


Today when we got to the beach we could tell something was different. There was a Sea-Do in the water – we have never seen one here. There was a Beach Patrol truck parked near our entrance – if they are on the beach they normally are moving, patrolling, not parked. A woman passed by us wearing a work badge. All different.

So we walked over and asked the man in the truck what was happening.

A drowning. 16 year old male. Strong rip tides today. David asked if the family was here – and the man pointed to the people on the other side of the truck.

How SAD. There they stood on the beach – waiting. There was nothing they could do. The Sea-Do searched, a helicopter flew over once. But the boy had been gone two hours already – how do they even know where to SEARCH, I wondered… The current carries you downstream even as you swim. If your body was lifeless and the water carried it at will – where would you go – in, out, down, up??

We stood and stared into the horizon.

We wondered.

Was he a good swimmer? Was he alone? Were all of these people here when he disappeared or did phone calls go out to summon family and friends to the scene? Was he wearing a swimsuit – the family was all in shorts.

And an important question for me – how was the little boy in the sand – the boy who was too young to possibly understand that his family had just been forever changed – how was he related? Was it his dad who was gone? His uncle? A brother?

We ended up in the sand with the boy. He was playing on the shoreline alone as his mom watched from a distance – her eyes going from him to the horizon to look for the body. I figured at least if someone played with the child it would give her a moment to not have to concentrate on him, and him a playmate for a while. He was making “sand castles”. Sand blobs would have been a more accurate description. But for him the exciting part was when the waves came and took them away. So we would pile up sand. And giggle as waves destroyed our work. And each time the castle was slammed into it was such a poignant reminder that the waves were also tearing apart his family.

His name was Malachi – as his mom’s tattoo would affirm. He is almost 3. An adorable bi-racial boy with a beautiful tiny toothed smile. A boy who didn’t bring any sand toys to the beach so had to use a broken washed-up piece of plastic to scoop. And every time the water carried the plastic out of his tiny hand I worried. “Do not go into the water! I will get it!” I wanted to tell him. The water was a grave for the family.

Eventually we continued our walk and left the boy there. I looked for any sign of the body in the waves – not wanting to find it, but wanting the ordeal to be over for the family.

And eventually we got in the 85 degree water. We held hands. I was scared. Where we usually run and jump and laugh and splash – today something sinister brewed. I reasoned outloud that there is probably often a body somewhere in the water – someone fallen off a boat, someone from another beach… But we had not been so close to it before.

We went back and played a bit more with Malachi. The news crews were there talking to the family and the beach patrol staff. I asked the mother if there was anything they needed – food or drinks… No – they were all okay was her reply.

Of course they are not okay.

I see on the internet now that the missing boy is Branden. One news channel says he is 15, another 16. He swam out “too far” with a friend and couldn’t swim back. Someone tried to rescue him and almost drown, also. The report says the body could be found in hours, or it could take days.

I just feel so bad for the family. As we stood and stared into the ocean I wanted to HELP. That is what I DO – I help people, comfort them. And I FIND THINGS – when anything is misplaced I am great at finding it. But in this case, I cannot find. And I cannot help. And David reminded me, there are things that are bigger than me. And the ocean is nothing if not huge.

So, I wonder, what is the meaning? What is the intended message? It can’t just be – there must be some lesson built in.

All I can conclude is: Seize the moment. Enjoy the day. Because life is short.

So eat the bacon for breakfast if that is what you are hungry for.
Paint your toenails 3 different colors if you like.
Travel to Italy to taste the pasta.
Get the shoes.
Color with sidewalk chalk all over the driveway.

Because none of us will be here all that long.

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