Doing a little something different today; part personal essay, part something more…
At the beach this past weekend, the ocean was pretty rough. I like rough oceans–way better than the boring, calm kind with the teeny waves–but this one was kind of too rough to enjoy. It had strong currents, big waves breaking one after the other, barely leaving you room to come up for air. We only lasted a few minutes before we had to retreat to the shoreline. So I settled for walking along in ankle-deep water and staring wistfully out at the sea.
A memory rose in me. When I was a little girl, all I ever wanted was a big brother. Someone to look out for me, to stand up for me, to help me figure out this thing called life. I never got one, but the one thing I did get (in spades) were my cousins. I’m part of a large extended family and they mean the world to me.
Looking out at the ocean this past weekend, I remembered a summer long ago when I was six, maybe seven years old, and my older cousins came to stay with us. They were these big boys (or so it seemed at the time), fourteen and fifteen. I was obsessed with the water and learned how to swim at an early age–I envisioned myself a mermaid–but there were days when the ocean was too rough for me to enter it alone.
And so on those days, one of my cousins would take me by the hand and lead me to the high tide line, then as we got further in and the waves got bigger, swing me up onto his shoulders. He would stand strong as wave after wave crashed over him, for I-don’t-know how long, while I giggled and shrieked, safe atop my perch on his shoulders, the little princess of the waves. I don’t remember him ever complaining, or getting tired, or being anything other than the big brother I always wanted but never got.
One of those cousins–the older one, Brian–is now battling for his life in Chicago due to some strange, sudden, West Nile virus-related complications. He’s still the funny, strong, endlessly good person from my childhood, and due to be married in less than two months’ time. I’m not totally sure what’s going on, but his fiancée has told us the virus is “untreatable”, so there’s not much we can do other than pray.
She asked us to spread her message far and wide, so that’s what I’m doing. If you believe in the power of prayer–and even if you don’t–please send prayers and positive energy in the direction of Chicago and my cousin Brian. I’ve already lost one cousin way too soon, and I don’t want to lose another.
Image of the Jersey Shore taken by me, September 10, 2016