Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Days are getting shorter

After a whirlwind couple months of trips, of life change, of soaring highs and tragic lows the days are getting shorter, my boys have gone back to school...summer is over.

A number of images will stay with me long after the days of this summer have gone. The one that has replayed itself the often in my head was our trip to the National Seashore on the east coast of Cape Cod. Earlier in the summer, Gail and her mom had taken the boys there while I was in Philadelphia. By all accounts it was the perfect day. The water was warm, the breeze was slight and the waves were perfect for a seven year old to ride his boogie board with his mom.

When we returned it appeared to be another perfect day on the Cape. Jake couldn't wait to ride the waves with me. He was chomping at the bit, like a horse waiting in the gates before the start of a race. As we descended the walkway to the beach I couldn't believe all the people. Blankets, umbrellas, buckets, coolers and bodies as far as the eye could see. I noticed something else though, all those people on the beach and only three people in the water. The next thing I noticed was something that sounded like a never ending peel of thunder. Wave upon wave crashed, receded and ran into the next that crashed on top of it. I looked at Gail and said "You two rode those things. "
She replied "they were...uh... different"
We got settled and Jake strapped the leash of his boogie board to his wrist, grabbed me by the hand and shouted "Let's go."
We stood at the shoreline for while. As the waves broke over my feet and shins I felt a dull pain. It was the chill of 59 degree water that was aching me. It didn't seem to bother Jake at all. "Come on Dad let's go, let's go."
"You sure bud?" I said.
"Yeah, come on," and all of a sudden we were standing in the impact zone of the waves.
"Okay, let's go." We paddled through the first waves to beyond the break. I spotted the next big one, "Here it comes bud, kick" I shouted over the waves. Sharing the same board, we kicked and caught the wave, which was way bigger than either one of us expected. It tore me off the board, flipped me over and pounded me into the rock and sand. I found my feet and popped up looking for Jake. I saw his feet and the red of swim suit rush by me as the next wave broke on top of him and knocked me for another loop. I again righted myself and began to search frantically for him. Another wave dumped him with in arms-reach and I grabbed him.
We were both bruised and scraped and wearing about 12 pounds of sand but otherwise okay.
Gail came rushing down to see if we were okay and comforted Jake as only a mother could after a harrowing experience.
I was bent over trying to catch my breath. I replayed the last two minutes in my head. I realized what a stupid thing we had done. As I look around, I also noticed that our little adventure had attracted a small crowd of people who were in that frigid water up to their thighs. As they recoginized Jake was okay they dispersed.
In that instant, for that brief period of time, a small group people had come together because my son was in trouble. They got out of their chairs and up off their blankets and braved the sting of the cold water and the harshness of the waves to try to help Jake. For that moment, we were connected and I was moved by the concern of complete strangers for my son. I am grateful for their efforts. What an awesome picture of otherwise disconnected people coming together for the sake of my son.

What thoughts from the Summer of '05 are gonna stay with you?

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