Heart in the Sand
by Cheryl C. Malandrinos
I tossed the ragged clam shell into the water and inspected my work. Satisfied, I slogged toward a bamboo mat a few yards away and plopped down. Leaning back on my hands, I tilted my head and breathed in the smell of the Atlantic.
The sun slunk to meet the horizon and cool ocean breezes caressed my cheeks. The Outer Banks of North Carolina always was our favorite spot. It didn’t matter where we stayed--Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head or Kittyhawk--this part of the Atlantic Seaboard begged for a visit at least once a year.
It seemed fitting to return despite losing him. I fumbled through my beach bag for my journal and pen. I wanted to remember what it felt like to be here without him for the very first time.
August 15, 2010
The ocean is just as beautiful as we remembered. The undulating waves crash down into the sand and wipe away the footprints of young lovers walking hand in hand along the shore. During the day, the sun is a fiery inferno melting us. By eventide, the orange sun is dulled by the majestic purple sky with its slivers of clouds, and a slight fog comes off the water. The seagulls screech all day as if they hadn’t stuffed their bills with unsuspecting ocean creatures and crumbs of bread tossed by tourists.
Do you remember how many young families we saw last year? Was it fifty? Looks like it doubled. What a difference a year makes. Who am I kidding? Sometimes even a few months makes a difference.
I wish I knew you were going to leave me that day. There are so many things I hoped to say before we parted. I love you would be the first. I feel lucky to be your wife might be next. Thank you for filling my life with joy and happiness. Thanks for sticking by me when times were rough.
We raised three wonderful kids. They are a living testament to the love we share. They are adjusting to you being gone, but they worry about me too much. Did you know they actually forbade me to come this year? Who did they think they were talking to? As soon as they told me not to go, I jumped online and bought the plane ticket. Someone once told me that my head was so hard it could crack a diamond. I'm sure that wasn't you. They have called every day since I arrived to tell me how inconsiderate I am. Is it bad that I chuckle a bit inside?
Maybe I should say it was so much fun seeing you as a Papou. The little ones loved their Yia-Yia, but they adored you. You always had a special way with kids. Remember when five-year-old Janie got sick all over the carpet in the wee hours of the morning? You changed her and rocked her until she drifted off to sleep. I wish they had more time with you.
I could go on and on, but you know you were my world for forty years. I'll cherish our time together until we see one another again.
When you told me you rented the big house in Nags Head with the wall of windows looking out over the ocean, I almost fainted. We never spent that much money on a rental before. It was the second best Valentine’s Day gift I ever got. Your love will always be the first. Each morning I step out the back door and our beautiful Atlantic is only fifty feet away. I wish you were here to share it with me. It isn’t the same without you, but I felt I owed it to you to come.
I never was much of an artist, and my sand castles still collapse, but I etched this heart in the sand to let you know I think of you every day. I hope you can see it as you look down from heaven. I miss you.
All my love,
Copyright Cheryl C. Malandrinos - All Rights Reserved.