This past weekend marked 5 months since my husband passed away. As such, it was an emotional time with much reflection on our life together, his passing, and what has transpired since. Life has certainly changed for me… dramatically. Which, of course, is an understatement.
The mullet were running this weekend, and my son was anxious to get out there to fish. For all you non-fishermen out there, mullet are fish that travel south as the weather cools. Catching mullet themselves are not the goal, and they are only used as bait to catch the bigger fish that are chasing them – tarpon, snook, and more. (Yes, I know… my eyes generally glaze over during these explanations, too. Just didn’t want anyone to think we were chasing Billy Ray Cyrus circa 1992.)
We loaded up my car on Friday night, and he and I headed South for the 2-hour drive to my oldest daughter’s apartment in South Florida so he would be ready to . The weekend was a whirlwind of activity for me, mostly consisting of running my son to various fishing locations, returning to bring him sustenance and hydration, and preparing dinner for my daughter, her boyfriend, and a family friend (including a pumpkin roll to make up for the one she didn’t get the weekend before when I baked one at home).
In between the chaos, my daughter and I had several conversations about A, what we missed most, how we were feeling, and what he would have been doing at that moment had he been with us. She has done a lot of maturing in the past year, with much of it being in the past six months, and I almost don’t recognize her as my baby girl anymore. That’s a bittersweet thought, and one I’m sure most parents experience as their children grow. Being able to have conversations with her has definitely been of great comfort to me (and I like to think it works for her in reverse order, as well), and I’m proud of the woman she’s becoming, and I’m sure A is, too.
Sunday morning, we hauled all of our beach gear out to the jetty so my son could continue fishing, and my daughter, her boyfriend and I could snorkel in the water nearby. Between the large rocks of the jetty, and the pump house alongside them (whose purpose is to pump the sand from lining the bottom of the boat passage channel of the inlet, as I understand it), the conditions are ideal for snorkeling. The warm water and multitude of hiding spots make it easy for even novices such as me to spot plenty of tropical fish.
While I was drifting along the top of the water and trying to identify as many sea creatures as possible, I took a moment to simply be in that moment. I had separated a bit from the rest of my group, and it was only me and the fish. The muted, rhythmic whoosh… whoosh… whoosh… of the pump house sounded much like a heartbeat as I floated along, and the ocean itself muffled the sounds of the beach goers, sea gulls and even nearby boat traffic to indistinguishable far off sounds, making it seem that I was alone with Poseidon and his charges.
I spotted various types of Parrotfish, angel fish and even a few good-sized crabs, along with many other fish I could not identify. Some were swimming alone, as I was, while
others traveled in small schools. I was thoroughly enjoying myself, although I was nostalgic for the snorkeling my husband and I did in Hawaii on our honeymoon, and quite caught up in my own thoughts, until my daughter swam close to me and excitedly tapped me on the shoulder. When I raised my head out of the water, she asked if I had seen the barracuda nearby. “There’s three of them circling us,” she said. My eyes widened as I responded, “no”, but we both quickly headed back to the beach as neither of us were interested in swimming with those fishes.
Her boyfriend hung back in the water, despite my daughter’s concern, and when he finally arrived on shore, she asked him why he didn’t follow us back in. He said he was curious and wanted to see one. I told him that I would honestly trust a shark more than a barracuda because they were more unpredictable. Barracudas are attracted to shiny things, and all I could think of was how enticing our (replacement) wedding rings which now hang from a chain around my neck might be to one of those cranky, needle-toothed buggers.
Later that afternoon, we left my son at the jetty for awhile, while the three of us went in search of seafood of the more edible kind. As we sat there enjoying Crab Bisque and Shrimp Scampi, among other menu choices at a nearby eatery, the clouds opened up and it began to rain. This was great news for my son, who was having little luck with the mullet, but for whom the fishing picked up along with the nasty weather. (Another lesson in perspective.)
As I later reflected on everything, it occurred to me that the entire day was a metaphor for life; you must enjoy every moment as it comes along, and truly be in each one, making the most of whatever happens because you never know when they might be cut short by circumstances out of your control.
Although A and I truly tried to live this philosophy (and truth be told, sometimes it can be very difficult to do), we still allowed life’s barracuda to interrupt our finest moments on occasion. But we also learned to celebrate in the rain, knowing that just because things didn’t turn out exactly as you planned, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the moment anyway.
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