My favorite hangout when I lived in California was a trip to Monterey Bay.  There were places to pull off the road and you could sit on benches to watch the waves hit the rocks.  It always was an adventure.  We’d get coffee if it was cool and drive out and sit for hours – mesmerized by the motion of the waves and the pelicans flying by in formation.  We’d look for shells and spy some sea life in the little pools left by the tide going out.

My favorite bench was dedicated to a young man who was murdered in Monterey.  The bench had a plaque with his story – his killer was unknown.  I’d sit on the bench and think about the loss of this young man and the loss of my own son in a car accident.  The bench itself became a shelter in my own storm of emotions.  I would think about how they would not be forgotten – life goes so fast as time goes on – new problems take the place of the old ones, but we never forget the people who are not with us anymore.  These people were taken from us in either a violent act or by the commission of crime by someone else.  They were here and then they were not.

The crashing of the waves against the sentinel rocks soothed my anger and it always turned my sadness into marvel – marvel at Nature’s way of giving you a hug when you needed it.  The sea air, the pelicans flying by in a row and the antics of children at the beach all gave me smiles when I needed it the most.

One time we were on the bench watching a woman with two small children approach the beach.  Where they were walking was wet – the tide was going out.  Some waves were still coming in with a force though.  The woman puts the toddler down on a blanket (in the wet space) and joined her other child who was hunting shells.  M turns to me and says, “Watch this.”  A wave came in, ran up the shore and grabbed the toddler and he went head over heels tumbling into the sea – the mother screamed.  She ran toward the child and reached for him but missed.  At this point men were rushing down from the parking lot to help – the wave brought the toddler back and some men caught him before he went out again.  The woman was hysterical – the toddler was laughing as he thought the whole thing was fun, the second child was shivering on the beach alarmed by all the screaming and running.  All this happened in a minute – to fast for us to even react.  That’s life.