A Beach Bouquet

Beach Bouquet
(c) March 2012
Stephanie M. Glennon

My children have devised a game and are laughing in the next room as they play it.  One son describes it as being “like playing Survivor–if everyone was both on the jury and arguing at the final tribal council, and also has to vote someone else out.”  It is a delightful hybrid of probability, social  inveigling, mini-tests, and outright bribery.

I hear a son issuing a challenge to his siblings, evidently to give them an opportunity to accrue additional points: “Whoever can say ‘Irish wristwatch’ the most times. . . .”

The laughter is magical.

We have just returned from the rocky shore of Maine, on a spring day when the temperature was in the seventies, and the sun so strong as to have confused the black flies into hatching three months early.

When we got to the narrow strip of beach to which I had been drawn for this day, at the particular hour upon which my subconscious seemed to insist, it was empty but for a family accompanying a therapy dog, a labradoodle whose deep honeyed curls and amber eyes echoed those of our youngest child, who was drawn to her and held her gaze as she ran her hands through her fur.  It was at least the third meaningful occasion since Jim died on which this daughter or I happened upon comforting therapy dogs: once was as we walked on a particularly difficult summer day; the next was on the wedding anniversary I should have had with Jim.

On this day, my youngest daughter stripped off her shoes to wade in the Atlantic’s chilly water.

It is exactly one year since we brought my husband home to die, on a blindingly bright late afternoon.

I had my back to the ocean and my children faced it; I read a poem about a turtle that “nudges with its bulldog head/the slippery stems of the lilies, making them tremble.”  She leads “the tender children,/the sweet children, dangling their pretty feet/into the darkness./And now will come—I can count on it—the murky splash,….”

And at that moment, just as I felt the catch in my voice as it started to tremble and I needed to regroup to go on, a gentle wave lapped at the back of my feet, tickled at my heels with its own murky splash, a nudge and a wink.  I looked up at the sky, over the sea.  Thanks, Jim.

….But, listen,
what’s important?
Nothing’s important

except that the great and cruel mystery of the world,
of which this is a part,
not be denied.  Once,
I happened to see, on a city street, in summer,

a dusty, fouled turtle plodded along–
a snapper–
broken out I suppose from some backyard cage–
and I knew what I had to do–

I looked it right in the eyes, and I caught it–
I put it, like a small mountain range,
into a knapsack, and I took it out
of the city, and I let it

down into the dark pond, into
the cool water,
and the light of the lilies,
to live.

We took coral-red roses to the water.  My daughter Emma, in a bright white dress with splashes of deep rose, planted her flower in the sand, where it soon was joined by three of its brethren.

As we retreated back to the ocean path, we saw a man with a camera crouched by the roses, snapping pictures.  He was still there as we lost sight of the beach, continuing our walk along the Marginal Way, a path Jim loved in every season.

It was exactly what Jim would have been doing, had he happened upon a bouquet of roses on the beach on a sunny afternoon.

(c) 2012 Stephanie M. Glennon

About Stephanie

In her spare time, Stephanie works full-time, and then some, as an attorney. She has published articles and delivered talks in arcane fields like forensic evidentiary issues, jury instructions, and expert scientific witness preparation. She also is an adjunct professor at a law school on the banks of the Charles and loves that dirty water, as she will always think of Boston as her home. You are welcome to take a look at her Facebook author page, or follow @SMartinGlennon on Twitter. All content on this blog, unless otherwise attributed, is (c) 2012-2020 by Stephanie M. Glennon and should not be reproduced (in any form other than re-blogging in accordance with Wordpress protocol and the numerous other wee buttons at the bottom of each post) without the express permission of the domain holder.
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12 Responses to A Beach Bouquet

  1. DeniseGlennon says:

    You all are in my thoughts and prayers this week.

  2. Betsy says:

    Sweet Sweet Steph,
    Every single time I read your post, I think that post is my favorite..this post was so beautiful…I don’t have the vocabulary to tell you how this post touched me…You are such a great mom and Jim is so very proud.
    BIG BIG hugs and kisses

  3. Catherine says:

    What a beautiful, touching tribute to Jim. I can picture you all together, with the sun shining on you. At church with my family this morning, I was startled to hear the congregation singing Amazing Grace.

    “Through many dangers, toils and snares…
    we have already come.
    T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far…
    and Grace will lead us home.”

    Anyone who knew the man would certainly tell you, that Jim had grace. It was no more evident than in his final months, and weeks, of life. He enjoyed this precious time with his children, and extended family. He took great pleasure in sledding with his nieces and nephews and insisted on bringing out heavy lawn chairs for his own parents to sit in while we played in the snow. I have a fond memory of Jim trying to teach my youngest to read at his kitchen table. He did all of this while he faced his own terminal diagnosis. I am still in awe at his strength and courage, and his amazing grace.

  4. Barbara Ward says:

    What Betsy said. I am overwhelmed.

  5. Deb says:

    To all the Glennons —you are all with us in our thoughts, in our hearts this week and always. Thank you for sharing glimpses of your journey and for sharing the beach bouquet—a gift to us all. –Cresta Family

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