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Respite

By: Heather Wolper

When my mom was sick, dear friends offered our family an escape from the harsh reality of cancer by the sandy shore of the ocean. 

We forgot about treatments and timelines and how many days might be left. We watched the sun rise and fall and dipped our toes in the cold ocean waves. We pressed our feet deep into hot Florida dunes and soaked in the heat of the sun. 

Here we found respite.

And a few years later, my father and I escaped here once again to learn how to be a family without her. 

It was here along the shores of the Indian River that we found our new normal. 

We watched the sun rise and fall and we found strength to walk the sandy shore without her feet in lock step with ours. 

Their memory echoes through this place like my children’s voices against the rippling river waves. 

I remember my dad’s boisterous laughter and his arm gently wrapped around my mother’s shoulder as they watched the sun set beyond the dock. I remember sitting with my mother as we dangling our legs on the edge of the pool. I remember morning bike rides and beachside breakfasts. I remember after dinner ice cream cones and searching for shells on long beach walks. I remember her excitement as we watched for manatees and dolphins in the river. 

Here in this place it somehow feels as if we are all together, as if they are watching as my children cannonball sending water spilling water across the pool deck, that my dad is playfully daring them to splash me, that mom is judging who had the biggest splash. 

Here I tell my children legends of sand castles and melted ice cream cones, Long Beach walks and summer fireworks. 

Here we remember them together as the sun rises and falls.

Here I find respite from the busyness of life and take time to savor each fleeting moment. 

“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” Psalm 39:4

Dear friend, I hope you will find respite today in a place where memories bounce like echoes off the water and remind you to savor your fleeting moments.

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