7 years ago today I went to the beach with Pete, one of many trips to the beach; uncomplicated and innocent, sand in shoes, a time of wide-eyed adolescence that you can’t really comprehend until it’s over. This particular day was the first time I met all of his friends, the teenage version of “meeting the parents”. His treasured friends who became my treasured friends: the beach became ours.
7 months and 7 days ago, Pete died. I could never have predicted I would be recounting those hazy, unburdened trips to the beach just a few short years later to a roomful of strangers at his funeral, grieving with those same friends. I thought I’d never visit a beach again.
I just got home from a tour that took me by the sea. New places, new beaches, new friends, the same 7 seas. Every single one takes me back to that earlier place in my life, a place which I couldn’t return to even if we were all still here. I still wake up knowing I have to make sense of something that will never make sense, no matter how long my life turns out to be. But I’m finally starting to understand what people mean when they talk about cherishing the past. My memories are not as scary as I thought, nor do they really fade; they vary, but they’re there. It’s always ourselves we find by the sea, all of our selves, past and present. They’ll always be there at the sea. I wish I’d learned that sooner in these seven months, but in a way, I will have always learned it too soon. Happy World Ocean Day.
“It’s always ourselves we find by the sea” – e e cummings and further discussed in this post.