You Are Not Alone. You Are Here.
My day started with a conversation with a Marine mom who was the picture of love and vulnerability. As a mom, I thought about our conversation all day and wondered what it would be like to say good-bye to my child as she departed for who knows where to do who knows what in the name of the country whose values are at the core of our lives. My heart broke for this woman, whose courage I thoroughly admire. This reflection is for her and for all the people in my life who have served in the armed forces.
After 1.75 miles of walking under the sun of a new day, a woman asks me,
“Have you been here before?”
She says she wants to know where she can get a nice piece of fish, but really she wants to talk about her son, a Marine who is about to be deployed. He is “special operations,” she says, and she has no idea where he will be sent. She knows that he has a close bond with the other guys, and they will see him through. She reaches for her crucifix, her Italian horn, and the charm of a little boy’s silhouette. I believe with her and say the bond is real--and I hope she doesn’t ask me how I know. She is from Massachusetts; I am from Connecticut. We are New Englanders, and I tell her where she can get fish from people who won’t mind that she is from someplace else. And I tell her I respect her son. “Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow; we’ll be here,” she says. “I’ll look for you,” I reply, and we carry on.
What they write in the sand:
I love NC!
There is joy in being live. Why not write about it?
One wave, and they never wrote a word.
One wave, and they never were there straddling earth and sea.
One wave. They wait. They beg: Go ahead, wave, tell me I wasn’t here. Torture me with freedom.
At the foot of a dune:
A heart shaped with the thin, iridescent shells of scallops:
Jewels for this moment and the next just beyond the reach of the tide.
Everything, nothing, the sand flowing between your fingers
Love what you will,
But do not touch this sand more valuable than gold
Scooped up and tossed back onto the shore because we must
Clearly demarcate where the beginning of all things ends and the temporary, evanescent, struggling-for-words step beyond the beginning begins.
We need to know where we are.
At the top of many dunes:
Consider: Some of our children drink too much and some, not enough.
For all of these, the turtle people have transplanted the turtle nests to the tops of the artificial dunes.
The baby turtles will descend their own Everest to reach the sea and fight like hell to survive and maybe come back to continue this life.
But there are a dozen nests here this year despite last year’s drunken ecotourists who believed their impaired judgment could somehow improve on evolution and the clear plans of the tough broads at the turtle hospital.
The turtle nests and the crime-scene tape protecting them from human beings speak of the marvel of this democracy: If a bunch of retired school teachers, bankers, artists, and let’s just say others say the turtles will survive, then they will survive. You are out-numbered, so back off.
I realize now:
So many of the turtle people who have walked the beach with dogs are unrecognizable to me this year because their dogs are gone. I did not recognize them without their friends. They are lonely or perhaps lonelier now. Perhaps they thought I was rude. I am sorry about that.
But the turtles.
Today there is thunder.
Nobody leaves the water.
They don’t hear the thunder.
I don’t say a word. Why?
- They make their choices.
- We can spare them.
- They won’t hear me.
I am alone and far away.
This is how it is:
Love comes and love goes. Nobody expects any different.
Die in the fire--any fire--if you want.
Or claim higher ground and wait.
You are not alone. You are here.