I am standing on my balcony as I type this – my laptop perched on a tall café table – looking out at the gulf. The water is once again a lovely greenish turquoise. The temps today are moderate – not hot. I’ve been hearing that the DC area, home, has experienced endless rain the entire time I’ve been here. Ew. I told a friend I’ve become a “special little seashell” now…I need SUN.
And yet it’s time. Time to go home tomorrow. I have to go turn in my bike shortly, and pick up a rental car for the trip back inland.
There are certain places that claim your soul, where the veil between here and There feels thin. The lake near my house; the deck of Steve’s cousin’s house in Highlands, NC; and now Sanibel. The hours and minutes have been slow here. My soul is not completely restored, but I’d say my batteries are recharged to 95%.
I’ve walked and biked over 130 miles (to the people of Sanibel: I probably looked like the Wicked Witch of the West on two wheels as I blew by, muttering and talking to myself. Thanks for always being nice!) and sweated out some of that overwhelming heaviness and sadness. I’ve cried every single day and will continue to do so. I’ve strolled the seashore and collected a few shells (c’mon people: do you really need to take buckets-full home?) and marveled at the variety, the intricacy of God’s creation. I’ve been vastly entertained by the gargling and purring of the resident crows; the push-ups and throat swelling of territorial little lizards as they fought a turf war under my lounger at the pool (only to have their battle include running across me!).
I have LOVED not having a car, the warm, simple feeling of a small town enveloping me as I tried to be a local, out doing my errands on my bike. One day a Pepsi truck got lodged across a principal roadway (no one knows exactly how that happened, but it did) and I hung out with folks on the corner as we waited for the harried cop to let us cross. I ended up giving directions to people on how to get around the accident. “Yeah – just go down this street, turn right and look for Tarpon – yep!”
And I thought about God, and I thought about my Steve and my Sarah, and all of my loving, caring family members and friends…and I thought about Mark, and life and death, and how we choose whether or not to keep moving forward in spite of what happens. I want to live. I want to find ways to help keep Mark’s memory alive, to find the energy once again to serve.
I have decided God is still trustworthy, still Large and In Charge, no matter the circumstances in which we find ourselves; He can and will weave a stronger fabric with and through this. I ask Him all the time to take care of Mark and to please let me have little signs that he’s always around.
One day, I told God – sheepishly – how I missed the coins. In the weeks leading up to this trip, I was finding them more and more, but I hadn’t found a single one here on the island — too many people with metal detectors on the beach, too many maintenance crews keeping parking lots and sidewalks spiffy clean. I even spoke to one of the guys with a metal detector. I asked, as innocently as possible, whether he ever found coins. He said no, people don’t bring their money to the beach in Sanibel like they do in, say, Miami or other locales where you can buy food on the beach. OK.
The next day, as I was standing at the edge of the surf, I looked down and there was a penny, just brought in by a wave, at my feet. Corroded, covered with crusty sea stuff, but a penny.
The next evening, as I made my way inside from spending time on the beach tossing living shells (with the clam things still dwelling inside) back into the sea, I glanced down: there was a quarter tucked between the grass and the asphalt at the edge of the parking lot. Two coins. Both say “In God We Trust.”
You can shake your head at me. Coincidence. Of course you’ll occasionally find coins, especially in parking lots. But I’d found 26 cents. No more, no less. Mark’s birthday is the 26th of June.