“We should take the kids for a walk on the beach,” my husband says. So, the announcement is made and the remanants of ice cream cones are downed in a hurry.
“I’m not wearing a shirt or sandals,” Jeremiah protests. “Why do you need them?” I ask. “No shirt, no shoes, no problem!” He grins in response.
Out the door and a few steps across the brick road that runs in front of the rental house is the boardwalk. Puzzle the Puppy is along too. We step onto the beach to find it empty. Far down on the right towards greater civilization are small figures moving in the sand, but only a few. This place is solitary, quiet…simpler. We laugh out loud with delight at our good fortune. The sun is just beginning to set and the evening is perfection.
We begin walking in the direction of the state park. There are only six houses, closely spaced, between us and its borders. After that, there is one small structure set far back, only the roof of which is visible from the sand.
At first, we look for shells. Claudine finds one as big as her hand but it has a hole in the top. We oooh, and aahhh anyway. Puzzle is full of the joy of life. She jumps high into the air beside Jeremiah as he frolicks in the sand. “See,” I say to my husband. “I told you she thinks he is another puppy!”
As the sun sets behind us, a full moon rises over the ocean before us. It is glorious. “Look at that,” My twelve year old says, his voice full of wonder, “It is so beautiful!” He walks beside my husband, tall and gangly holding a blue sand pail in his hand in which he is placing shells. In that moment, he is a perfect picture of the crossroads of adolescence, both man and boy.
Michael and I call all of the children to us and we come to a stop. He motions to the sky and says, “Look at that moon, kids.” For a rare moment, they are all five perfectly still, gazing at the sky and the water beneath that has been turned a shimmery, liquid silver by the glow of the moon. I tell them to remember the moment because it shows them how much God loves us that He would create something so beautiful.
We walk on. There is not a person, or building anywhere in sight. The openeness calls to Jeremiah and he begins to run, singing as he goes. “Such a manly man,” I comment to my husband. Moments later, Meghan joins him. “She runs like a marathoner,” my husband comments. Roseline is skipping happily along in front of us as I turn to Claudine and say, “Baby, show Daddy how you can run.”
And she launches into the twilight.
My husband gasps as the sight takes his breath. “She runs like lightning!” he says. Her legs fly, and her arms pump with perfect rythym. It is a skill that can’t be taught. She is a natural born sprinter. She turns and runs back to us, laughing and barely winded. We tell her about Wilma Rudolph and the Tiger Bells. I tell Claudine that Wilma overcame a lot in her life too.
“Someday you can be a Tiger Bell too,” her Daddy says.
She runs again and soon three of the five are far in the distance. We feel like we should call them back, but from what? There is nothing there to fear. Christopher contemplatively walks beside us. Roseline skips on, just a few feet ahead and tears fill my eyes as I remember.
All those vacations….when two of our babies were so far away. The deep sadness of longing for them. The helplessness and frustration. The heartbreak and despair. I tell Michael about finding a picture of Claudine recently that was taken just before she came home and how when I found it, I realized how sick she was before she came to us. Her skin pale, dark circles under her eyes….
I remember how she needed assistance just to climb into our van in those first months with us, her new family . Images of baby Roseline’s weak, frail little body fill my mind’s eye as well. I turn to my husband and say, “Look at them. They are healthy, happy, and here.”
And with that, his eyes swim with tears as too as he says, “Thank you, God and forgive us for ever forgetting….”
Looking forward, looking back. Thankfulness and joy.
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20&21