My favorite place in the world. I’ve been coming here every year since I was a baby. My mom has been coming here since she was a baby too. We took first steps in tide pools, and ate our weight in sand, filled our pails with treasured rocks and shells, and learned how to keep getting back up onto our feet when waves relentlessly knocked us down. A fine metaphor, and a fitting lesson for life.
Our family continues to gather at this place annually. As soon as January arrives, my parents send out the call: Who can come? How long? Which week works best for everyone? Sisters, brothers, cousins all coordinate and begin securing their place by the sea. We’ve never missed a year.
My mother’s uncle built one of the first hotels along the beach, before the footbridge was built. At high tide, he had to row guests across when they arrived. She worked summers in the candy shoppe, helping guests and steeping in the beauty of the sand and the sea. When that little hotel burned down last year, we stood at its bones and said a prayer. It is in my blood.
As each baby arrived, their first visit to this place is to the waters edge for a blessing, dipped three times naked into the sea in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Some babies met this blessing with loud and lusty cries to match the gulls, some with silent, curious eyes. The last baby blessed here was Babybear. She was less than two weeks old, all pink and delicate compared to her four big brothers. Her birthday is tomorrow so I am a little choked up with nostalgic memories.
I remember my mom wrapping Babybear in a little towel, her tiny, doughball of a chin just visible above the folds. My sisters and I followed her to the edge of the shore and circled her as she handed me the towel and dipped Lucianna three times as we prayed. Such a powerful voice for such a small child hinted that this child would make herself known in this world and fearlessly face each challenge. Her name means “light” and she has been a bright light since the day she was born, living up to her name and illuminating my life.