Monday, September 30, 2013

Peace by the Sea

After Lana's diagnosis, we went to the shore for a couple of days.  We tried to re-create the excitement of years past.  Nothing seems to be the same.  The ocean is the same, and the boardwalk is still there--maybe a couple of new shops have replaced old ones.  But we have changed.  No more shovels and pails and chubby legs running for water at the edge of the ocean.  No more drippy ice cream faces smiling in the hot sun.  No more pulling our little girls in the wagon up and down the boardwalk in the chilly evening, excitement in their eyes as we approach the carnival rides with the flashy lights.  This day, fear of the unknown crowds out the fun.  Sadness about my granddaughter burdens my heart.  I grieve for her and the journey ahead for her family.  Their lives have changed forever.

But the monkeys in the helicopter still sing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight".  (If you've been to our shore, you know what I'm talking about!)  Arielle and Liana still want to play Goofy Golf and we still drive the surrey while the morning sunlight glints off the ocean--although now we need the big surrey and all four of us can power it.  The girls ride the carousel again.  Arielle says she did it for me.  Fred and I watch and wave at them as they go around, like we've always done. This is our special place.  We have so many memories of our precious daughters here.  Everything we see before us has a story of times past.  Good memories.  There is nothing sad anywhere in this place.

We take a long walk along the shoreline with only a bucket and a camera.  The girls are looking for treasures in the sand, and I'm looking for peace.  Arielle walks into the deep water and I watch her carefully.  It was so much easier when my little girls would dip their toes in the cold water and then run back to me.  I think how beautiful the ocean is this day.  But as I look across its depths, I know how frightening it is.  There are sharks and jellyfish, and the riptide can pull you away until you drown fighting it.  The tide can destroy homes and lives.  The ocean is so unpredictable.  Yet we are drawn to it, its vastness and its mysteries.

I notice big waves are breaking far from the shore.  Just before they crash, they shimmer in a dazzling light.  In the deep, God shines even brighter.  He is there when life is uncertain.  He is there in the despair of our days.  And today, he gives us all this beauty!  A walk with my beloved family gathering seashells while the ocean roars alongside us.

A very old woman is adrift in an inner tube.  She comes in with the waves and then goes back out to sea.  She appears to be asleep, her eyes closed, and she is slumped over with her head on her chest.  Her hands hang limply, trailing through the water.  We walk past her, but I keep looking back.  Is she okay?  Now she is bobbing up and down where the waves are breaking so far out.  There are no lifeguards here.  Another wave comes in and she is back on the sand, still asleep.  I point her out to Fred and he walks back and calls out to her.  Her eyes open and her arms began to gently paddle the water.  The waves retreat and she goes back out to the deep.  I'm amazed at her lack of fear!  Imagine sleeping on the ocean while you float in a tube!  She is an experienced life live-er.  I so admire her courage.

We walk on, leaving her behind.  I let go of the worry and enjoy the hours we have left beside the sea.  A verse comes to mind, one of my favorites:

"Do not fear, for I am with you.  Do not look anxiously about you, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you; surely I will help you.  Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  (Isaiah 41:10)   Surely he will.  He is our God.  He loves us.

1 comment:

Julia Marie said...

Love this post, Aunt Deborah! It brought me walking along the beach with you all. Needed this little escape along the shoreline. :)