| The morning fog was just clearing up over the ocean when I pulled up in the parking area and got out of my car. The expanse was beautiful, filled with the bright blue of the water and the sparkling tan of the sand. The sky was still dimly lit in the dawn hours of the morning, casting a pale light over the whole beach. Some would call this beautiful; others, like me, would call it an omen of death.
After a hesitant pause, I pulled my surfboard from the backseat and slammed the car door. I grabbed my gear and proceeded down the beach to the ocean front. I marveled at the feeling of the sand between my toes as I walked. The granules tickled my feet as they clung to my skin for a lift closer to the rolling waves that were breaking against the shoreline. Before the accident, I would have been so drawn to these white capped wonders, but now, I could hardly bring myself to look at them.
About a year ago, the most important person in my life was taken from me by these silent killers. My wife of three years, Ari, and I came down on a morning like this. We were both stoked to get out on the waves together; the ocean almost seemed more like home to us than our own well furnished beach house did. It was the first good swell of the year, and there was no way that we were going to miss it.
Being experienced surfers, we saw no problem in simply rushing out with our boards. The water was calling to us, inviting us in to tear it up. Ari went out farther than I did. We both knew what we were doing on our boards, but Ari was always more reckless than I. She took the big waves that I knew would be dangerous. She looked glamorous as she beckoned me out farther to join her, even though she knew I wouldn’t come. But as I was shaking my head in negation, a sneaker wave came up from behind and swallowed her. She didn’t even have time to scream. In a frantic effort, I attempted to save her, but in the end, all I had succeeded in was watching my wife being pulled out to sea by the wave, never to be found.
I shook my head to clear my thoughts and bring me back to the present. I would have to completely disconnect that memory from my mind if I ever wanted to get back into the ocean again. Gripping my board tightly, I advanced towards the water.
The cold water lapped over my toes, sending a negative chill up my spine like I hadn’t felt before. I took a deep breath and tossed my board onto the water to paddle out. My stomach churning inside of me, I made waves as I moved out to sea. I couldn’t help but turn my board around a few times and almost made it back onto the shore. I shook my head, knowing that I had to do this or I would never have peace in my life. I surged out again, telling myself that I could do it this time. I knew I could. My eyes drifted over to where Ari had been taken, and I had to bite my lip to keep from turning around. I saw a wave coming my way and forced myself to stand.
As soon as the wave caught my board and moved me along with the current, I felt a rush of being home. My heart swelled with the monstrous waves but didn’t subside with them. Ari would have wanted me to continue this; she always had big dreams about what we could do in the surfing community. As much as it hurt to do this without her, I felt free. Free from all of the guilt and pain that I had stored up in my mind and in my heart. I could move on with the pleasant memories of my wife and our adventures.