January%202015.jpgI took this photo in January 2015 just two short months after Mark's death, I had traveled home to Jacksonville, Florida and drove out to the Beach with our dog Bella. A "Nor-Easter" was blowing cold wind in and there were maybe 3 other brave souls venturing out that morning. What I did not expect to find later on when I got home, hidden in the photo barely visible was the outline of the Jacksonville Beach pier. That brought back a flood of memories from childhood, memories of many fishing trips with my grandparents, sometimes before the sun would rise or in the middle of the day just as long as the tide was turning and heading in for high tide.
I have always found the sea an alluring force in my life, one that would eventually lead me to a short stint in the US Naval Reserves. My two years in the Navy led me to places I never could have dreamed of visiting, meeting people of different nationalities and different cultures, not only in foreign countries but right on my very ship. A varied cross mix of individuals from all parts of the US. What an adventure this turned out to be, one I still dream about and one I have fond memories of. I was proud to serve my country and I felt blessed that I could get out and see some of the world at such a young age.
No surprise to me that the sea has attached itself to me and that I am and forever will be drawn to it's shores. No matter what state of mind I am in the sea can change me as soon as I feel the sand under my feet and smell the salt in the air with a light breeze always greeting me much the same way as a best friend would greet you after being away for a time.
Such was the day that this photo was taken by me with Bella, our dog, standing there looking out at the horizon, a slight shiver from the cold wind nipping at my face and still the smell of salt in the cold air. I was near to tears by the view and yet, I was immediately calmed by it all and humbled by the shear sight and sound invading my mind and forever placing this bookmark in my memories. Bella on the other hand was full of energy, she loved cold weather and this was her first visit the ocean. Her attention was on the rolling sea foam chasing the sand pipers and sea gulls away from their foraging. Her tail was wagging in a circular motion so fast and she was winning with her usual low shriek to let me know that she was ready to charge off down the beach to catch the birds. I explained to her that the sign said no dogs allowed on the beach and that we had to be content with standing on the wooden walkway over the sand dunes. Of course she did not understand and I had to spoil her excitement with a command to sit, which she did with such comedy I had to laugh. She would get her butt almost down then stand up again each time something new caught her eye. This went on for several minutes and each time she would see me standing there watching her and waiting. Finally, she relented, sat down and then gave me a look, one I was familiar with, "OK you win, for now". We both stared out and took it all in until the cold got to me. We slowly made our way back to the car by way of the doggie walk just in time as the local police were making their rounds, so we got in the car and headed back to our hotel room so we could pack up and head back to Dallas.
This trip home was a healing trip and I honestly think guided by Mark, my mother, grandmother and my sister, each of them still looking out for me, knowing that my love of the ocean would help me overcome my loss and set me on a different path, one of healing and one of finding the resolve to accept the things that we cannot change and embracing the things that we can change.

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