Wednesday, June 13, 2018

That Moment

I love going to the beach, especially with my family.  My daughter is of the age where she is self sufficient and I love sitting in my beach chair and watching her play with other children, search for shells, cruise the waves, dig holes, play with us, and, more recently, put her goggles on and swim under water.  It's pure joy on top of relaxation.  Each year, our experience at the beach as a family changes and grows.  Long ago are the days when we hovered over her making sure, at 10 months old, that she didn't eat sand or get too tired. 

Throughout the years, we have seen and met many families.  All of which have had children of all ages and Lorelei loves playing with them all.  She has always been engaged with children of all ages, yet on the beach she gravitated towards children who can actually play with her.   That's the scenery I get to enjoy beyond the obvious. I've never paid any mind to the younger children because I was too busy watching her play with her peers.

This last trip, a week ago, she was playing in the water with her dad and I was looking on. A family passed by with a son who was about a year old. He was so timid about the water, curious but not quite sure. His parents and grandparents, I assume, were doing everything they could to encourage him and so was I from afar. And as he got braver and began to enjoy the ebb and flow of the waves, and then get skittish again, I realized what I never had with my son.  I was literally sitting there encouraging him the way I would my own child.

My breathing got labored, I started to sweat beyond what the sun made me do. I started to that thing I do when my head and my heart are wrapped around something emotional, my head swept back and forth slowly, seemingly trying to keep the tears from coming.  I took a deep breath, but nothing subsided. I tried not to look at them, but their experience was too precious and beautiful to keep my eyes away. It was a precious moment for a child, his parents, and anyone who ever has the joy of experiencing it, even as an observer.

It's moments like these that suck the joy out of life sometimes. I have spent years marvelling over milestones that I have gotten to experience with my daughter very rarely catching myself in such a despairing connection with what we did not have with Trey. The milestones that I lament our birthdays and grade level changes, and of course him becoming an angel. As a teacher, I see birthdates all the time, and only this past school year have I seen his, and it didn't affect me the way I thought it would. Maybe it's because it's been so long and I had hoped I'd never find someone with the same birthday as hin or the day that he died and I was glad for it.

That moment, relaxing in the sand the book in my hand, watching my daughter play, yet distracted by this young boy and his loving and his loving guardians giving him his first experience at the beach shook me to the point that I had to stand up and walk away. My husband was watching my daughter but I had to go away and take a deep breath to keep from crying. I didn't have to do that when I saw that one of my students had his birthday. It's curious.

I always talk about the things that I would never experience with him like they're fact, and which they are. Those are always in the back of my mind. I watch Lorelei grow and thrive through such milestones and the joy of it pushes the lack of the same from Trey to the back burner.  I guess what surprised me was finding such joy and seeing a baby experience the beach for the first time, and finding such sorrow in it.

What grabbed my attention that the same time was that you can go so long living on, that these experiences can sweep you right back to the start in a second. For the past 7 years I have been living life for my daughter, giving her experiences, encouraging her milestones, and celebrating her conquering the ocean waves of life. I remember it like it was yesterday. She squealed like a pig on her first trip to the beach.  She was so excited when her daddy pulled her up in the air when the waves came at her. She stared with wild wonder at her toes as the water and sand washed over them. My favorite, she wiggled her toes as the sand and the water rushed over her feet and then kick with reckless abandon.  I'm blessed to have these memories with her and her father. It broke my heart that day that I never had them, these precious memories, with Trey.

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