It’s like a wave.
In a cold ocean. Bitterness that stings when you touch it.
I see it coming, anticipating the moments until I can feel it engulf me. Knowing I will take that last big breath of air before I go under. I’m wading in the water now, toes barely touching the sand bar below. Energetic with my arms pushing the cool water back and forth slowly, fingers spread apart. Taking in the time I have now, pleased to have my head above the water. But I know it won’t last long. Not when it arrives.
I never really know how long it will take to reach me. Sometimes minutes, sometimes months. But what I do know is that it does head my way sooner or later. That it is unavoidable.
I stand on the rocky sand bar now. Still miles from the shore. The granules slide through my toes. Quiet stillness in the ocean surrounding me, one that is usually full of life and movement. The water level has subsided below my shoulders, and I know it’s time now. I see the wave in the distance draw closer, the rough blue gleaming amidst the clouded sky and the specks of matted white as the top crashes and folds over into itself. It won’t be long now. I hear it coming. I don’t move, I just wait. Take it because I am prepared.
I close my eyes, one last deep breath. My body rises slowly but not for long. In one instant I am catapulted across distances I can’t number. Deep and far though, as the bitter cold is all around. My body holds no weight in defense. Tossing and turning. I let it overcome me, discombobulate my mind. I don’t know which way is up, which way is down. I’m jerked left and right. I feel the rush of the salt water travel through my nostrils. My body spins, jerks. The only noise I hear besides my own struggle is complete silence.
Right side up, I’m standing now. Again in the sand, but closer to shore. The warm water is now laid around my ankles. My body worn and weary. Weakness. I hear what sounds like an ocean. Subtle drifts of the aftermath of bigger waves sliding along the coast. Seagulls. Sun felt on my forehead. My skin is of dry salt, eyes burning. I glance forward and over the ocean. No more waves coming now, in this moment. My hands are being held on both sides.
Behind me is the beach, and Holden sits on a towel under and umbrella. Fiddling with some buckets, shovels and singing to himself. Untouched and innocent. Protected.
Not the first encounter, and not the last. Persevere.
But still, how tumultuous it can be sometimes. Knowing it’s coming, knowing what it’s about, and knowing how it will end up. Like a broken record. Preparation goes so far, and recovery is in place and secure. But in those few minutes I’m pulled under, it hurts just enough to throw me. Breaks me enough for a couple of tears to fall. Threatens me just enough to disrupt me for only a few minutes.