The Saltwater Trail of a Life Well-Lived
I’m imagining myself sitting on a beach.
The sand is white and fine.
I haven’t been in the water, giving it no excuse to plaster itself to my skin, to occupy every empty space with its coarse, gritty bits.
When I was younger I always hated the sand, hated the way it got everywhere, hated the way it stuck to me, hated the way it felt in my mouth after I took a bite of my sandwich when the breeze decided to pick up.
But this sand is different.
I sit, feeling it, cool and soft against the backs of my thighs and settling in the crevices of my toes.
This sand wants to coexist with me. I can feel its gentle caress across my skin, urging me to run my fingers through it, to pour it into the other palm, to sprinkle it across my toes, allow it to collect between the gap between my thighs.
The sun hasn’t risen yet.
My mother always told me she wanted to die in a place where she could see the sun rise each morning and set each evening, but if she had to pick, the place with a clear view of the sunrise would be preferred. She said she fell in love with the sunrise because it symbolized a new day, a new beginning, a new opportunity for happiness and adventure.
I think I want to die on this beach.
I want it to be before the sun rises that morning.
It must be a new day, a new beginning, a new opportunity for happiness and adventure for the people who are lucky enough to have seen it. I don’t want to stain it with my leaving of this beautiful planet, the residue of my sins and my seemingly everlasting sadness littering this wondrous part of the earth that has graced our species with inspiration, curiosity, and hope.
All I hear is the sound of the waves.
I’m listening to them roll against the shore in long, almost passionate gusts, sweeping away the imperfections of the wet sand collecting at the shore.
The ocean almost made my best friend one of its own when I was 7. Although she was a skilled swimmer, she bit off more than she could chew one afternoon as she waded into the ocean, skilled but painfully arrogant.
It was already a windy day, and always the cautious one, I sat on the packed sand at the shore and watched her trudge through the first couple feet of water.
Not a moment later the only thing I could see was the top of her head as a great crest swept her up, flipping her backwards and landing her flat on her back underwater, legs folded in and arms splayed out to the sides.
I suppose that was Mother Nature’s way of telling her to remember her place.
I recall that memory now as I watch the water hit the bank, foaming at the top and curling under itself to recede back into its blue-grey depths.
When I die, I don’t want my body to remain in its physical form. I’ve always had visions of myself walking into the welcoming arms of the sea, reveling in its warm embrace and becoming apart of the briny deep. I want to look up at the sky and speak to God, just two sentences that I will wait until my last breath to speak. “You failed me. You always have.” And then I will immerse myself in the watery depths, stepping with grace and never looking back.
And so, as I imagine myself on this beach, I look down at the dead seaweed washed ashore, I look up at the few seagulls circling the coast, and wonder- was the sky always this blue?