I have always loved the beach. The feel of the sand beneath my toes, the sun kissing my skin, the ocean purring away. When I was a little girl, my family used to take beach vacations. My dad would ride the waves with us until we were dizzy and our fingers and toes were pruned.
As I got older, my love of the beach grew. I always felt at peace on the beach. The rest of the world would slip away as I sat on the sand with the shells beneath my feet. Books are better on the beach. Ice cream cones are better on the beach. I am happy on the beach.
When I was pregnant with Allie, I used to think about what it would be like to take her to the beach. I pictured me sharing my passion with her. Sadly, the beach is just one more thing I will never be able to share with her. Shortly after she died, my dear friend and I went to the beach for the day just to escape. Here is an except from a blog post in June 2011:
I have been going to the Jersey Shore for as long as I can remember.
Atlantic City, Ocean City, Sea Isle, Avalon, Cape May - I have been on
all your beaches. Gary is not really a beach person, but I love it and
nothing can keep me away. Luckily, my BFF
feels the same way and with her parents agreeing to watch her
soon-to-be six year old for the day, off to Ocean City we went. Our one
day beach trip had to incorporate a whole vacation in just a few hours
so we walked on the boardwalk, ate at Mack & Manco's for lunch, had Kohr Brothers custard for a snack, Chickie's & Pete's
Crab Fries as a chaser and some freshly squeezed lemonade. We walked
till our feet were sore and bought gimmicky bracelets with our initials
on them and jewelry that we did not need but sparkled so nicely in the
cloudless sky. We walked down to the icy water and felt the sand in our
toes. We ate fresh crab legs and scallops and flounder and drove home
as the sun was setting - our bellies full and our hearts light. We
talked about the past and the future, about our dreams for ourselves and
for each other. And we talked about Allie. She will always be with me
wherever I go and it was an absolutely wonderful day.
In many ways, that was Allie's first and last trip to the beach with me. It was a great time for me to go - when I was still raw but starting to heal - when she was still so close to me that I did not even have to close my eyes to see her.
This past Monday, I finally got to take Allie's sister to the beach. And it was the kind of trip I had been dreaming about for years longer than I even realized. My sister-in-law and some of her cousins were sharing a house in Point Pleasant, a beach I had never even been to before. She said it was tight quarters, but that we were welcome. That was all I needed to hear.
My mom, Miranda and I got into a very packed car and made our way to the beach. Before we knew it, we were there. First we said hello to everyone and thanked them for letting us crash their vacation for a few hours. Then the 3 of us walked the boardwalk and soaked in the sights. Shortly thereafter, we hit the beach.
It was amazing. Miranda LOVED it. She tried to find her footing on the sand and was successful some of the time. She loved to play with her cousins and feel the ocean breeze on her face and she did not even mind when I slathered her in suntan lotion. She was giggly and smiley and I was in heaven. It was my dream. And I was living it.
We stayed through lunch (my sister-in-law's turkey sandwiches are also fantastic on the beach!) and we left around Miranda's nap time. She was asleep before we pulled out of the lot and my mom and I chatted the rest of the way home. I had invited her with me to share the experience with me and also to help me out! She happily did both. It was such a lovely day.
Tomorrow, my mom and I head back to the beach. This time, just us. Gary took Monday off so he could stay home with Miranda. This trip is my treat to my mom for all the help she does for us. For all the love she gives us. It's also a much needed grown-up getaway for us. To the beach. To my happy place. It will only be my 2nd time away from Miranda but I think it will be good for both of us! (And it's just 1 night!).
I will never get to see Allie build a sandcastle. I will never get to walk on the boardwalk with her. That makes my heart heavy and sad.
However, I choose to focus on what I do have. A little rainbow, napping right now so I can write this post, who lights up when she sees me, who seems to like some of the things that I like and who brings me more joy than I ever imagined.
Now let's hope she is this good when my mom and I drive towards the beach tomorrow!