Last week we were at my parents’ beach house in Maine, a place I have been vacationing for almost twenty years. Being there has become a way to measure time. Each visit reminds me of who I used to be and now of my kids and who they were the year before. How much you have they grown, what did they like to do last summer, what was tricky about the visit last year? What could they do now that they couldn’t do last summer?
Here is an account of where this passage of time took me one particular day during our visit:
I watched you in the water today, after begging Poppy to take you out far. Wasn’t it just last year that you were afraid to put your face in the water? But there you are, plugging your nose (a new trick taught to you by your cousin, Jaxson) and dunking your head in with every passing wave. “Farther! Farther!” you plead with Poppy as you cling to his big hand with your two small ones.
“I’ve got you,” he says. “Poppy won’t let anything happen to you.”
Those words bring me back to my own romps in the ocean with my dad. It was as if I was watching the two of us as I stood on the shore watching you. The thrill of every wave approaching and the terror of not being able to touch the ocean floor showed on your face. But I know you felt safe. You knew Poppy would hold you up.