The Water

Written By: Felicia Coursen

It’s mind-boggling how your life can change in an instant. One moment you are gliding through your life without a care and then, it happens. I was twelve when my grandmother died. Of course, it had been a long time coming. She had been diagnosed with lung cancer and had a near death experience when her bronchial tubes collapsed in the spring before she passed. But, when you’re a twelve year old, you seem to miss these essential details foreshadowing the inevitable. After she passed on, my whole family flew down to Florida for our last goodbyes. She had passed while on vacation there, her favorite place on Earth, and it was only right to leave her there eternally. Of course, she wasn’t really in her body anymore, she had gone to do bigger and better things up in Heaven or wherever it is you go after death. I can only hope that it is beautiful there. My grandmother had been cremated, so we had placed her ashes in the Gulf of Mexico while on a boat ride. On the way back, dolphins followed the boat, and I knew that my grandmother was still amongst us. When I think about it, most of my grand memories of her were either in Disney World or on a beach. Living on Long Island, we had camped in Montauk a couple of times. There was one trip that sticks out amongst the others muddled in my mind. I remember that I had been young, probably wearing my hair in god-awful pigtails at the time. And as you get older, some memories get lost in the wind like grains of sand. The memories of this trip weren’t one of those grains-of-sand-memories. I remember setting up the tent. Now, when you’re young, all you really do is watch your parents set up their tent. You’re a bit too small and young to any of the physical labor except hammering in the stakes into the ground with some effort. My brother and I were so excited to go to the beach that every five minutes we would ask whether or not our parents were done yet even though we could see that they weren’t. Something about the beach has always been special to me. When I was little, it was just because playing in the water was fun. But, as I’ve grown older, it’s become more of a safe haven. There’s something so calming about watching the waves pummel into the shore and rolling out once more. This, added with the lingering scent of salt and ocean breezes, creates such a sense of serenity that anyone would be insane to not find it calming. I believe this is why my grandmother loved the ocean. It’s also probably why my family all went camping right next to the ocean. I can remember sitting around a campfire eating s’mores- which, by the way, is such a cliché thing to do now that I think about it- and laughing at jokes that I thought were hilarious at my age but probably didn’t understand half as well as I would now. I remember the next morning, the first morning there; we had gotten egg sandwiches and were eating them on the beach before heading down to play in the water. My whole immediate family was there along with my grandparents on my father’s side and my uncle and my aunt (whom technically wasn’t even my aunt at the time). We weren’t alone on the beach. There were other families tanning off to either sides of us and others in the water, yet a seagull had chosen my family to attack. My brother had been enjoying his egg sandwich when-wham!- a seagull swooped in and stole it right out of his hands. Mind you, this was a pretty skillful attack. It had flown under our umbrella, over my brother’s head, and promptly snatched it out of his small grasp. Now, at the time, my brother had been devastated. He still hates seagulls to this day because of it. But, when we all look back on this memory, we still all have a great laugh. I can still hear my grandmother’s laughter ringing out amongst the others as he had chased the bird someway down the beach, yelling and crying all at the same time. This trip had also encountered some more yelling and crying. That night, at dusk, we had been flying a kite on the beach. It had been my Poppop, my dad, my brother, and I flying the kite. The rest of my family had hung back at the campsite. As I finished my turn, I passed the kite to my brother. Apparently, he hadn’t actually grabbed it like I had thought he had. Long story short: the kite flew away. It soared over the forbidden dunes and I had yelled and cried because we couldn’t retrieve it. Well, that didn’t really stop my dad from chasing after it. I remember yelling, “Dad, you can’t go there, you’ll get in trouble!” in my small little voice which got lost in the wind. He didn’t get in trouble. But, he did get the kite. The best part was that my family back at the campsite had been able to witness the whole thing, for the kite was flying high enough for them to see. We all shared a good laugh about that too. These memories are held dear to my heart. Not because they’re funny or that they’re particularly great memories, but because they had been made near the water and with the people that I will cherish until the end of time.