Ashes In the Ocean

Wednesday, May 6, 2015, 5:30pm, Navarre Beach, Florida

We sat out on the sand for several hours yesterday, soaking up some rays and enjoying the surf. The wind itself was a bit lighter than it had been the day prior, which was good. I did not get thumped again, which was even better. There were sand crabs in several spots, scurrying out of their crab holes, tossing sand onto the beach as they made their homes nicer. I imagined a crab interior designer show on the television under the sand, showing the crabs how they could make a more modern crab castle and all. It was just another mind wandering that occurs quite frequently for me.

Around 5:00 pm or so, a small group gathered to our right. I thought, at first, that it was a wedding. There were some nice flowers, a bit of jovial behavior amongst the group, and even some laughter going on. I kept looking for the bride and groom, attired in their beach wedding wear, but they never surfaced. Instead, there was an older man, probably in his 60s, who keep  getting hugs and high fives from others in the group. I knew he was the center of this story, whatever the story might be.

We were far enough away that we could not actually hear what everyone was saying. We could hear some laughter, some clinking wine glasses, and some hurrays here and  there. Then the whole group posed for a few photos, taken by the beach staff who rents chairs and umbrellas for the day.

The winds were fairly calm. The surf was not bad at all. The birds were flying overhead. The sea was peaceful. The light, still bright overhead but fading soon, cast shadows over the group and toward us. It was serene.

All at once, the man carefully picked up a large cup. He held it high above, and everyone cheered. He didn’t pause to drink it, but instead ran with it toward the surf. He ran like he was plunging headlong into the incoming waves, which is exactly what he did.

He ran out about 15 yards or so, joyfully and with a mighty purpose. A large wave was headed his way. Instead of backing down, he, the cup, and its contents, plunged head first into the wave, diving in with determined ferocity. The cup appeared to splash a dark powder right as the wave hit, and it was then that I realized what was unfolding before me.

The man, hit fiercely by the wave, jumped up, cup still in hand, the crowd going berserk at his triumph. Another reveler joined him, hugging him greatly. They came back toward the beach, the man bending down only to retrieve a shell from the foam. Everyone still cheering, he was greeted by hugs and smiles. Several of the group hugged one another, patting backs like one does in this instance, on land, grieving.

The man stayed on the sand for a minute or so. Me, unsure of whether my instincts were correct, continued to watch him and his group, wanting to know if this was what I believed it to be.  It could be something else, right?  But the signs were all there.

The partygoers turned toward each other, not noticing the man treading his way back into the surf. He silently forged ahead, the waves seemingly more fierce yet somehow calmer than they had been just moments prior.  He went out to a spot around the same as before, nothing in hand this time.  Standing there, silently, and still, he faced the sea, looking for something it seemed.  He raised his face to the heavens, smiled, and then blew a kiss with his hand.

That is when knew that my instincts were correct. Tears streaming down my face, I turned to my Sweetie and confirmed the same.  Then I told him that that is what I want him to do with me, if presented with the same choice. Morbid, yes, but necessary to know my wishes, also yes.

A few minutes later, I, too, walked into the water, uptide from where the man had been. I imagined her name was Carol, although I know not what it was. I imagined them married for a long time, or married for the second time, finally finding joy as my Sweetie and I did ten years ago. I imagined the man sad, losing his love, but happy, releasing her in such a poignant and heartwarming way. I imagined my own eventual need to have the same done for me or for me to do the same for another.

In this life, there are so many inconsequential or non-monumental things that happen every day. You get cut off in traffic, another attorney lies to you, a client doesn’t show up for a hearing, someone doesn’t make their bed, someone doesn’t like green laminate. None of it matters in the end, really. What matters is that we show kindness to our fellow man, the animals with whom we share this planet, and the resources that we need for survival – the air, the water, the soil. Kindness, my friend Adam would say, is paramount. Be kind.

Yesterday, I witnessed the last act of kindness a man did for his wife.

It was amazing and will have an impact on my life. I hope it does yours, as well. Look for those random, little things in life. They occur every single day. They can change you and change the world.

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