Day 20: Shift in the Sand

We vacationed in coastal Oregon, last year. At the wind-whipped beach, the kids invented a game in the sand. It started with building up a little, muddy fort near the shore’s edge. The sand was too coarse and waterlogged to shape into castles or anything sophisticated but their hands could scoop up grainy sludge and pile it up into a hill they called their fort. To protect the fort from being washed back into the Pacific, the kids dug a trench all the way around their castle/fort/mound. Incoming tides rolled up close and tugged and took away chunks of trench walls. So, the kids dug into the ground more fiercely; there was new furor to save the fort. When a wave would roll into the deepened trench, the kids would dance with delight in the ankle-deep, cold and salty, frothy water, their pants legs rolled up close to the knees. They would cheer and chant on each other’s efforts. Will the trench hold back the water from washing away their imaginary army home?

The waves were creeping closer inland and swelling with force. Water filled up the trench and gripping with wet claws, it ran back to the ocean taking fistfuls of sand with it and leveling the trench again. We must work faster! Dig deeper. A barricade in front of the trench is what is needed to fortify and protect our territory!

Now, heaps of sand were hauled over and plopped down in front of the trench by one set of hands. The wet earth was sculpted into big, round embarkment. Another frantic worker-kid was repeating the Great Trench Dig-out again. And, all the while, third architect-child continued to scoop up sand and build the original bastion up higher.
The levee did its job for about eight minutes. but the inevitable rise of the sea surface had its way and broke down barriers, carting the wall away into the vast ocean. The water line had moved in closer to the feet of our fort-builders. Each wave, boosted by the wind, had more force. there were fewer and fewer fortifying breaks. Our crew had no time to build back up a barrier. With the wall washed away, the next few waves seeped into the trench filling it back up with hundreds of thousands of grains of time and weather rounded silicon. The path to the mound was now smooth and clear again.

It happened with gusto – the next wave, a crashing wave, engulfed the fort and caused it to collapse in one dramatic swoop. The mound melted before our eyes. But the waves did not wash away our smiles. All was not for naught. With stinging, cold feet and warm hearts, we laughed and reminisced about the great game and how the fort lasted so long – longer than any of us expected. The memory of our fort is what mattered. We needed no other proof that it existed.

Today, the packed and lovingly patted mound of sand is my grief. I want to protect it from being washed away by incoming waves. I know it will happen because tides are one of the most reliable phenomena in the world, but today I need it to be there. I need it to prove to me that he mattered. The memory is not enough.

We went to New York this past weekend for a wedding. We had a great time in the city that never sleeps. Sightseeing, fine food, dancing and playing. I returned home exhausted and feeling surprisingly guilt-ridden for having such fun and not missing E more than I thought I should. But then I thought why should I feel that way? Wouldn’t he want me to play and have fun and get my feet wet?
Thoughts come and go, like waves. There are fallacies in the brain. But the memories are there and they are what matter.


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