Sandra watched as the waves relentlessly clawed at the shores of the white sandy beach, leaving small traces of seashells and seaweed behind. The calls of seagulls rang in her ears along with the playful laughter of a precious little girl who was busy constructing the world’s most beautiful sand castle. The ocean’s steady breeze left a salty taste in her mouth. Or maybe it was a taste left behind by the tears that had trickled down her face.
She sat alone atop the tallest of the surrounding sand dunes. A spot she frequented often; a place where she longed to be when she needed time to grieve. The spot where her husband of nearly thirty years had proposed to her after a romantic moon lit stroll along the beach’s soothing shores.
She missed Frank. Though it had been nearly a year since he left, she still had trouble getting through each day without her husband. A heart attack while asleep in their bed; that was how he left her. Alone, and with a new title to her name; widow.
It was Frank that held her together after their darling Mary died of cancer three years ago. Their only child; gone after just twenty-four years. Twenty-four years, not nearly long enough to live a full life. “Why not me?” she often asked God. “Why didn’t you take me instead?”
“First Mary, then Frank. Who will be next?” She was afraid to ask that question; afraid that God might just give her an answer.
The laughter again caught her attention as she watched the young girl playing in the sand. The castle appeared complete now with a Barbie doll wedged into the top of its tallest tower.
She reminded Sandra of her own daughter. How they would spend nearly every weekend on this beach. How Mary would play in the sand and wade in the foamy waves for hours upon hours. How she would giggle. How she would play with her own dolls and build her own palaces. How she would be covered with sand from head to toe by the end of each day.
“Mom?” a voice called from behind. “Are you okay?”
Sandra answered without turning. No one called her mom anymore, except Jeff. “I’m fine… just thinking.”
Jeff sat and placed his arm around her, hugging her tightly. “I saw you drive up. I thought I’d give you a minute alone, but when you never came down...I got worried.”
Tears began to fill her eyes again. “Thank you, Son. I don’t know what I’d do without you. I love you.”
“I know. I love you too.”
The two of them sat quietly. Neither said a word. Sandra gazed out across the Gulf, trying to recall more happy memories from days gone by. Jeff, deep in thought, thinking of his lovely Mary, shuffled his toes through the warm sand.
For the first time since Sandra’s arrival, the little girl looked up from the castle that had held her attention for most of the morning.
“Grandma!” she screamed as she leapt to her feet and sprinted awkwardly through the thick, weighty sand.
Sandra smiled as the girl ran towards her; arms stretched wide, reaching for a hug, still several yards away.
Jeff met his daughter at the foot of the dune and helped the impatient girl climb to the crest of the hill where Sandra awaited her granddaughter’s embrace.
Sandra relished these happy moments. That was the reason she chose this place for her quiet times. This hill, this beach, was home to so many wonderful memories of the amazing life that God had given her; memories of her husband Frank, her daughter Mary, her son-in-law Jeff, and of course, her little angel Mary Kate.
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