Three photos that I’d found in a big box full of old family photos sparked a memory long forgotten. They were found while my siblings and I were cleaning out the attic after both of our parents had died. I wanted to try to write about that memory in third person voice. I gave my four-year-old self the name Nora.
The surf pounded with a roaring intensity and the huge waves rolled in one after another.
They all stood together, four-year-old Nora, her father and her two older brothers. Standing there, with the water waist high, she could feel the sand travel through her toes as it ebbed and flowed with the undertow. Her brothers were leaping over each wave and fearlessly plunging into the larger ones that rolled towards them. They were having fun … and she was frightened! She struggled to maintain her balance and held tightly to her father’s hand
“I want to go back to the beach!” she yelled over the roaring surf.
“No! Stay here!” he shouted back. “You’ll be fine!”
Nora hesitantly pulled her hand out of his and let go. As she started heading back to the beach where her mother was, she heard her father call to her. “Go ahead then! You’ll have to make it back on your own.”
The waves and the undercurrent were stronger than she anticipated and she found herself being knocked off balance. It was too late to turn back and she was determined to get back to the safety of the beach.
Suddenly she plunged into a deep hole that had been created by the undertow. Instantly, she lost her footing and couldn’t find the ocean floor to stand back up again. She thrashed about, feeling a sense of panic. It was hard for her to tell where the top of the water was. When she opened her eyes all that she could see was the murky salt water and the long pieces of her hair floating around her. It seemed like she floated there for a while and she didn’t fight it. A strange sense of calm came over her.
Then, in an instant, she was scooped out of the water by strong arms. It was her father and he took her by the hand to lead her over to the blanket on the beach. He seemed upset with her as she gasped and cried.
Shaking and shivering as her mother put a towel around her, Nora was relieved that she was safe again. Once she had dried her off, her mother gave her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and lead her over to a towel that was laid out on the sand. There she sat eating and thinking about what had just happened to her in the ocean.
As she gazed out at the vastness of the sea and the power that she had just experienced, Nora felt the warmth of the sun and listened to the sounds of the people enjoying the ocean. Little did she understand that the ocean had taught her an important lesson that day.
Today, Nora has come to love the ocean and is humbled by the power and force behind it. The ocean taught her about the ebb and flow of life and finding her balance in the middle ground.