Love is like the ocean

Joyce Whitis

Love is like the ocean, endless and forgiving. Sorrow is like a shadow that passes over that sea. Those words came to me as I walked along the beach. The smells, the sights, and the sounds of the ocean cast their spell as always. Waves from the incoming tide were writhing in white foam, a disturbance kicked up by a strong wind from the south predicting rain soon to follow. I walked, fascinated by the hoard of seagulls that rushed forward on skinny legs with the slap of each wave that spread across the beach. They attacked the golden brown seaweed, picking out tiny sea critters, crabs and shrimp and gulping them down whole. They were pretty noisy about it but I liked the sound they made. It reminded me of Vogel, the name I gave to a seagull once. As I watched the water cover my feet, leaving a snow white clam shell between my toes, it seemed like Vogel was part of another life, one that was mine a long time ago.

And so I stood and stared and listened and noted the smell of life out there that I could not see, only sort out from shells and pieces of twisted and honed wood and sometimes something altogether surprising like a coconut, that floated onto the beach and lodged against a pile of seaweed. With the tide some objects were reclaimed and disappeared in the waves only to be tossed back on the beach a few minutes later.

I remembered the terrible devastation on Galveston Island in 1900, the result of a hurricane. A complete body count was never recorded but at least 6,000 persons perished and estimates say it could well be 8,000 who were drowned or crushed as winds drove the murky water inland destroying all but a few buildings in town. Burying the bodies became a problem for the survivors after the storm. In desperation, weights were tied to hundreds of the dead and they were carried out to sea and dropped overboard. The sea, refusing to accept the victims of its rampage, brought the bodies back and dumped them on the littered beach.

Part of the fascination with the sea, is its capacity to stretch out to the horizon, beautiful and mysterious. Staring at that point where water meets sky can make a restless soul strangely peaceful. However a peaceful scene can change quickly, as that same sea rises up in giant mountains of water, releasing its fury, quickly.

Reluctantly, I shook myself loose from those thoughts and moved to the wooden deck of the beach house where my family was spending the week. It was in a white deck chair that the sea hypnotized me long enough to fry my skin, just one more trick of the sea and sun.

But fried or not, the trip was exactly what I needed and I enjoyed it all.

Tom and I used to go to Galveston or Padre Island or other port city every year or so. He wasn’t affected by the ocean beaches as I was but he knew how much I loved it so we’d go. This year was my first visit since he passed away so as I watched the ocean I thought of these lines:

Love is like the ocean, endless and forgiving. Sorrow is like a shadow that passes over the sea.