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Where Was I

I have purposefully never posted anything about 9/11 on my blog or Facebook page. Each year, I’ve passed the day with a reverent silence on social media–but it hasn’t been silence out of respect, as one might presume, although I do, very much respect. I’ve been silent, because I haven’t known what to say. Or more truthfully, I had nothing to say. There has always been this part of me that feels like a fraud trying to join in on the conversation.

Because.

I have never cried over September 11, 2001. I never hurt or felt the fear, numbness, and confusion that so many have told me they felt. Honestly, I have absolutely no frame of reference for the events of that day. I’ve often heard older people talk about “where they were” when JFK was shot. And I hear the same thing from my generation in regards to the terrorist attacks on 9/11. “Where were you?”

Where was I? Continue reading →

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My Great-Grandmother’s Pecan Pie

My great-grandmother, we called her Mama Maude, passed away this past weekend. She was 99, and only three weeks away from turning 100.

She’s faced Alzheimer’s for the last ten years or so, so while it’s always sad to lose a family member, I’m also grateful that she’s no longer a prisoner to her darkened mind.

I didn’t know Mama Maude very well–she lived in Pennsylvania and I grew up in South Carolina–but we exchanged letters for a period of time when I was in grade school and I remember visiting her for her eightieth birthday party. She made us sticky buns for breakfast and we loved taking baths in her claw-footed tub upstairs. That visit was the first time I remember playing in the snow and I can still recall the sea-foamy green paint on the walls in her living room.

Thinking about Mama Maude got me to thinking about my Grandma Sally, Maude’s daughter, my dad’s mom (or “mum” as she says it). She and Granddad lived only minutes away when I was a child. We ate Sunday dinner at their house every week growing up. All our birthday parties were held in their living room and each Thanksgiving, my sister and I would arrive early to help make the pies. Karly was in charge of the pumpkin and I was in charge of the pecan. The recipe we used belonged to Mama Vic, my other great-grandmother (Granddad’s “mum”). It was also the “official” pecan pie recipe on board the “Lazybones,” one of my grandparents’ boats.

I’d love to share it with you.

Mama Vic’s Pecan Pie

1 9″ pie crust (this is a great one)
1 cup dark Karo syrup
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
3 eggs (slightly beaten)
1 tbsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

  1. Combine syrup, sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla and mix with mixer till smooth.
  2. Stir in pecans and pour into crust.
  3. Line edge with foil strip to avoid burning the crust.
  4. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
  5. Remove foil strip and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes or until center doesn’t jiggle.
  6. Let cool completely. (Best if made the day before)

*Variation for High Altitude: Reduce heat to 325°F.

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Teaching Me How to Love

I’ve loved two boys in my thirty years. I was twenty-two the first time I fell. It was young love–the kind of love you feel when you still don’t really know what love is. And though sometimes I wish I didn’t have to “claim” it, I must, because even though it didn’t have a lot of depth–it was love. And I think perhaps that had it been allowed to progress, it just might have become more. But it didn’t. And while “loosing” it shattered my heart, I see how I was led from it, to something better. Something more. Something that expanded my capacity to be.

It was only a few months later, after that midnight heartbreak, that I sat in Church one Sunday disillusioned and distrustful. I still didn’t understand how he could say one thing and then take it back a few weeks later. I didn’t understand how quickly his head could be turned. But mostly, I didn’t understand how I had been so naive. I’m smarter than that. At least I thought I was.

That’s when he stood up. He, was tall, dark and handsome with a tweed jacket, or maybe it was corduroy. I can’t remember. Either way it had elbow patches. He announced where the Sunday School classes would be held and which one he would be teaching and I immediately knew which one I’d be attending. (How quickly a girl’s mood can change.)

For the next hour, I sat amazed–but not by the blue of his eyes (although I obviously noticed. How could I not?). My mind was reeling with the depth, and wisdom, and insight that spilled out of him. “It is a daily battle to maintain pure motives,” he said as he closed his remarks, and I walked away wondering about my own motives, evaluating and weighing their level of purity. Simply put: I was impressed and I wanted to know him. I was still wary, but I took my want to the Lord. “Father,” I said, “I want to be friends with him.” And Father answered.

Over the next three years, we became friends. We carpooled to work, ate dinner together, hung out with other mutual friends, and talked for hours. And hours. And hours. Oh did we talk. In the car after work, on a the peaks overlooking the city, in a mountain meadow surrounded by aspens, at my kitchen table, we’d talk of God, of relationships, of spirituality, of love. So often it came back to love.

He was a philosopher and a musician and I was wide-eyed, hungry for his thoughts. A typical conversation began, “What are you learning right now?” or “Tell me what you’ve been thinking about?” And then we’d go back and forth, back and forth. Floating ideas. Questioning validity. Engaged in each word with mutual respect. I told him my secrets and of my heartache. He shared his plans and the paradoxes of his life.

Later, I’d often find myself in the library, sitting Indian-style on the floor in between the stacks for hours at at time, fingering books, smelling their pages, determined to read more, learn more, be more, do more–because of him. I bought Kierkegaard and Plato, Diana Krall and Alison Krauss. I began making lists–of who I wanted to be and what I could accomplish. I could feel the broken parts of my heart piecing themselves back together.

Yes, we became friends. Dear friends. Always friends. And somewhere along the way, I began to love him. I find that I never say “I fell in love with him,” because … it wasn’t reckless like that first time. It was careful, and simple, and sincere. It was honest. And it changed me.

I asked him once why he never asked me out. He said he didn’t know–that he’d thought of it, but didn’t know. And we never spoke of it again. He eventually married another girl. A lovely soul full of grace. A girl who, I’m certain, I will become friends with. She’s perfect for him and fits in ways I never did.

But I loved him none-the-less.

I recently found a book he gave me on my twenty-fourth birthday and a few notes he’d left on my car throughout those last years of college, and as I looked at the familiar handwriting, I saw pieces of my history–pieces of me–flash in my memory. I felt that oddly-familiar feeling of adoration. I could remember how the smile felt on my lips when I saw him. I could remember the tingles in my toes when he played his guitar. I could remember the way my heart literally felt like it was doubling in size when he was near. I could remember how anything seemed possible to me when he was teaching. And while I no longer love him like that, I could remember what it felt like when I did.

I’d forgotten that that feeling is possible. That it exists and that I’ve felt it before.

Tonight, I learned his family’s world was rocked with a fierce tragedy. And as my knees bend, and my prayers rise, and my tears fall for him, I find that that piece of my heart–the one that I think will always belong to him–once again, has doubled. And though the feelings are different, he is still teaching me how to love.

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The Preface … to Something

My house is dark and still. Quiet, if not for the hum of cool air pressing its way through the window screen, filling my room with the breath of life. Outside, the wind bends the world to its whim as the rain taps on rooftop, slides down the gutter, and spills into puddles of rippling rest.

I sit, curled beside the open window, watching the sky turn gray, then grayer. It’s almost electric with anticipation–the sky and I.

My life has become dichotomy personified as of late–an island girl, trying to make home in a desert. A sunshine lover, hungry for rain. A responsible adult, wishing for a wind storm in which to lose her caution. A contented woman, dreaming of other paths.


I am reminded of a night, similar to this, wherein I wrote:

I just deleted three paragraphs of honesty … simply because I’m not ready to be honest. I’m too scared of it right now. Afraid of what it will to do me and where it will put me. But I know I need to write. To get something out of me. And so, I write.

This weekend I’m staying with family friends. Sandra lets me come when I need. She hugs like a mom and listens like a friend. They have a lovely home–quiet and serene with a yard full of Aspens and a trail that leads to the hills. Bill plays the banjo on the porch each night before dinner and I find myself looking forward to it all day.

Friday night I was reading on the porch and stopped to look out over the valley. It was raining lightly and I could tell a storm was coming. I watched the medallion leaves flutter on the Aspen branches, quivering as the wind rushed through them. Maybe they knew a storm was coming too. Maybe they shook with fear. Or maybe they didn’t know at all and were simply dancing, excited for something they didn’t understand.

Their usually white trunks turned seal-slick gray as water streamed from sky to ground. Slippery wet, the rain rolled off their backs sinking deep into the roots. I could feel the wheels of my brain begin to turn. Cranking to draw the parallels. Churning with lessons I ought to learn. But I stopped. I didn’t want to think.

And then I saw it. Right there in front of me. How had I missed it? A perfect little nest. It was empty and I was fascinated. I stood up and leaned over the rail to get closer. Tiny twigs carefully woven, placed, and perched in the crook of a branch. It was lovely. Simply lovely. I wondered how on earth it stayed right there – perfectly balanced without falling. It looked as if nothing at all was supporting it.

The breeze turned cool and I went inside to read. Sandra came to join me. Darkness fell quickly and the wind kicked outside, howling down from the canyon. Rain poured sideways, lightning flashed, and thunder rumbled. As I gazed out the window, I remembered being a little girl huddled under blankets listening to the summer storms shake outside my window. Sandra looked up. “Storms make trees strong,” was all she said, and she turned back to her book. I too returned to the pages in my lap. I still didn’t want to think.

The next morning I woke up wondering and worrying how the nest had fared through the night. I ran upstairs and out to the porch, where there, in the crook of the branch, it sat. Not a twig had blown away. And not only that, but in place of yesterday’s emptiness was a robin. Wide-eyed with amazement, I suppose I leaned too close and startled the tiny bird because she chirped and flew away. And there on top of the twigs and moss sat two little blue eggs, no bigger than a couple of grapes. I offered a silent “thank you” to heaven. I felt as though I had been given a secret view of something special–a quiet peek into an intimate corner of Mother Earth, and I needed to thank the source.

I checked on the eggs all weekend. Not that I could do anything for them. And not that I needed to. They had been created in the midst of a storm and had weathered the wind perfectly fine without me. But I couldn’t help but want to make sure they were okay. It was as if checking on them and finding them safe meant that everything else in the world–my world–was safe too.

I know it all represents something. I’m certain of that. But I still don’t want to think. And I still don’t want to be honest. It’s just too much effort right now and I don’t think I have the stamina to see the corners upon which honesty will shed its light. But I know someday, sooner or later, I will write more. And what I will write will be about a life that quivers when the wind blows through. And about rain that smooths the outer edges as it sinks into the roots. It’ll be about the almost invisible support that cradles and balances the nests I build. About storms that make me stronger, and the quiet, perfect tokens of life found when I look right in front of me. It’ll still be about birds I suppose. But next time it’ll be about me too.


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22 Years Ago

Twenty-two years ago, there was a really cute second grader named Krista. OK … maybe she wasn’t so cute. But give her a break. It’s was an awkward transition between 1st and 3rd grade. She (thankfully) got cute again in 3rd grade. Things went downhill again in 7th grade, but that’s not the point of this story. This story is about the day this 2nd grader got a new baby sister.

She had been awaiting the day for what seemed like for-ev-er. And finally it was time! Her dad dropped her and her other sister, Karly, off at their grandparents’ house and took her mom to the hospital. Grandma dropped them off at school and ALL morning long, Krista was beside herself with excitement! Every 5 minutes she would ask her teacher, Mrs. Neale, if she could go to the main office and call the hospital to see if the baby had come yet.

Thankfully, Mrs. Neale let her go every time she asked, and Krista would RUN to the main office to call the hospital (whose number she had memorized). She got caught by the hall monitor for running one of those times and got in a little trouble but that was the only time in all twelve years of school that she ever got in trouble–except for the time later that year when she hit Joseph Chisolm over the head with her clipboard and had to write her name on the board (he so deserved it). Oh and there was that one time in 10th grade when she got a detention for not being in her seat when the bell rang. But that was it.

But anyway, finally after almost an hour of calling the maternity wing of the hospital the conversation went something like:

Hospital: Hello, Hilton Head Hospital
K: Yes, maternity please
Hospital: Please hold
K: Thank you
Nurse: Maternity wing
K: Hi, has Lori had her baby yet?
Nurse: She sure has! Let me get your dad for you.
K: Thank you (her mom was really big on manners)
Dad: Hello?
K: Hi dad! So we have a new baby sister?
Dad: Yup. [Then dad tells some really lame joke]
K: [humoring her dad] Oh brother.
Dad: Nope! Not a brother … It’s a sister.
K: [humors her dad a bit more] OK well, I’ll see you later. I’m going to go tell Karly we have a sister!

Krista hung up and ran-walked to the kindergarten wing and found Karly in Mrs. Compton’s class where she told her they had a new baby sister!

After school, she had to go to ballet before she could go to the hospital. But as soon as ballet was over she raced to the hospital. She had on white stretch pants and a pink t-shirt. She was waiting in her mom’s room when they brought the new baby in. Krista can still remember everything about those next few minutes. Baby had on a pair of little white jammies with tiny purple flower buds on them and a white lace collar. A tiny purple bow was taped to the top of her head. Krista was sitting on the left side of the bed facing the bathroom and a crocheted afgan was laying beside her on the bed. And when they placed Baby in her arms, she fell in love.

***

Kaycie Baby, Happy Birthday! Even though you’re 22 today, you’ll always be our Baby. I’m so amazed at who you are. You are a wonderful woman with a tender heart and strong spirit. You are the gem of our family and we love you more than you could ever know.

Kaycie
Born 8:42 a.m., March 9, 1987
7 lbs. 4 oz., 20 1/2″ long
Easter 1988: 1 year old

Shnuggling with her big sister Krista

Halloween!

Kayc and her best friend

Our beautiful ballerina

All growed up

 

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What I’m Holding Out For [An Open Letter to My Baby Sister]

Dear Kaycie,

Talking to you tonight got me to thinking. Thinking about where I was when I was your age. I know you might not think so, but lately, as you’ve gotten older, I forget that you really are only 21. You just seem so grown up these days. But like I said, talking to you tonight got me to thinking about time. Thinking about the eight years that separate where you are, from where I am, and what happened in between.

Lets just say nothing happened the way I saw it in my head. When I was 21.

And I know that maybe this isn’t what you want to hear tonight. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear back then. And maybe it won’t be what you want to hear tomorrow, or the day after that. But maybe in a week, or a month, when your heart has quieted just a bit, you’ll be in a place where you’ll see that this is more than me, your big sister saying, “well, when I was your age.” Because it is. It’s so much more than that.

But in order to get to the “more than that,” I have to say…

When I was your age

I lived in the Foxwood Apartments on the west side of University. I was a junior at BYU. And I liked a boy. I don’t think I ever told you about him. His name was Troy and he had a really cute bum. It makes me smile to remember that. Whenever Katie and I saw him from behind, we would sing (truth be told, we would actually rap) that line from the Salt-N-Pepa song, “you’re packed, and you’re stacked, ‘specially in the back. Brothuh, wanna thank your mothuh for a butt like that” (to ourselves of course). Ha ha. I really did love that bum. But I digress.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. I lived at Foxwood, was finishing my junior year, and I liked a boy. We were good friends and we hung out, but at the end of the year, he decided he liked one of my friends, and just like that my little heart was crushed. Looking back, I wonder why it hurt so much. It was just a silly crush. But that’s the beauty of time I suppose. It offers perspective. Regardless, at that time, it did hurt. And it hurt bad. And that’s ok. Don’t let anyone tell you different. It’s ok that it hurts. And it’s ok that you need to cry. I cried. I cried a whole heaping lot. Ultimately, I think I cried not because of what it was, but because of what it represented. Which was me, once again, not winning the boy. Not being married. Not getting what I’d always seen myself getting by the time I was 21.

After a few more tears and a long, hot shower, I drove up to the temple to read my scriptures. I soon came to a verse that I can honestly say, though cliché in every way, changed my life. But it’s true. It was in Mosiah 24 where the people of Alma are weighed down with heavy burdens and they are pouring out their hearts to God that He’ll deliver them. And the Lord comes to them and says:

Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage. And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs … and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions. And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

Kayc, this isn’t my point, but I must, like the people of Alma, stand as a witness that the Lord God does visit His people in their afflictions. I know you know that. But it’s easy to forget. He visited me that night and on many more occasions since then. I can’t count the times he has eased the burden and given me strength to carry it. And I know He will do the same for you.

After reading that scripture I was at peace. It wasn’t dramatic. It wasn’t a surging rush of calm. It was just quiet. And I knew it was ok. It still hurt (bad). But it was ok. And then I bowed my head. And prayed the prayer I’d not yet had the courage to say. “Am I supposed to go on a mission?”

My life changed dramatically that night, when I finally bent my will to His. It’s been a long time since I’ve thought about that prayer on the hill. It’s good to remember.

Serving that mission was a jumping off point to an amazing life. It provided a foundation for building block upon building block of experiences and opportunities. But before there could be a foundation, there had to be a place to put it. An open space. A space that was dug and created by the humility that came from not getting what I thought I wanted.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying I think you should serve a mission. Only you know that. I just want you to know, that I know, that sometimes the present hurts. And that sometimes the future seems dark. But if you can just hold on one more minute, read one more verse, say one more prayer, I know, the path will lighten. And I know that the road, the one He leads you down, will be filled with more joy and happiness than if you’d gotten what you wanted.

No, my life isn’t everything I want it to be yet. Even since my mission, I’ve had mashed-up, broken hearts. I’ve told the Lord time and time again what I want to have happen, only to be given something different. I’ve asked Him, “Why? Why me?” And I’ve cried some more too. Yes, I’m lonely sometimes. I used to think that I wouldn’t wish my current situation on anyone, but I don’t think that way anymore. Because in my current situation? …

I’m learning patience. I’m learning faith. I’m learning hope. I’m learning who He is and where He is and just how much I really need Him. He and I … we’re getting closer every day because, at the end of the day, He’s all I have. And when it’s all said and done, when I finally get what I want most, I’m certain there will never be another wife or mother who loves being a wife and mother more than me. Because I had to wait for it. Because I know what it’s like to be without it.

And in the meantime, I learn. And allow myself to be led to glorious things–things I never could have done and places I never could have gone, had I been given what I wanted when I wanted it.

And because of that, this is what I know … that sometimes, before the joy, there’s perhaps a bit of sorrow. And often before the blessing, there’s sometimes a bit of emptiness. It’s like the tide. Before it rolls in, it must roll out. And the sun–before it rises, it has to set. But, my sweet sister, the light always comes. It always comes. And that’s what I’m holding out for.

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At The Ocean’s Edge

The air was filled with the familiar scents of my youth–the sweet stench of oyster beds and marsh mud laced with salt water. The sun was high and bright, and as I emerged from the shadows of the sidewalk awnings, the light hit my face, my head involuntary tilting back so that every curve and angle of my face had full advantage of the warmth. My eyes closed and I took a breath so deep it felt like my lungs were in my toes. Within moments, I could feel the yellow rays seeping into my pores, probing past my skin, reaching through my muscles, and settling into my core.
When the sun calls, my soul responds.

And the sky. The sky was …

Cloudless.
A perfect blue.
The kind of blue I dream in.
I’ve walked those docks a million times. They were an extension of home. In fact, during the stifling months of summer, I often spent more time there, at the ocean’s edge, than I did inside our four humble walls on Indian Trail. I grew up living a life others envy. An island girl with a captain for a dad. And today, as I visited this truly, enchanting place, the nethermost regions of my soul came alive.

As soon as I placed one foot on the deck, my body instinctively knew how to respond to the gentle rocking of boat in water as waves lapped against the hull. I was like a baby in a cradle. Fitting, seeing that as a baby, my mother would put me in the cradle she kept in the engine room while she and my dad greeted tourists and showed them the dream world we lived in. And there I would sleep, rocking back and forth, back and forth, as we cruised down the sound. To this day, there is nothing that can carry me off to golden slumbers like the roar of those Twin Cummins NT8 55 diesel engines.

And so the tour begins …
“Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and welcome aboard the Holiday. She is safe, sturdy and comfortable, so everyone please sit back, relax and enjoy the cruise. We’re certainly glad everyone could join us for today’s dolphin watch nature tour. I’d like to introduce your crew to you, my name is Captain Mark of Hilton Head Island …”

My sisters and I have Dad’s entire narration memorized by heart. We recite it sometimes, and laugh at its predictability. But sometimes, when I am alone in the desert I now call home, I recite it just so I don’t feel so far away. I recite it so I don’t forget where I come from. So I don’t forget the things I know.

For because of this childhood education, between shrimp boats and slip knots, I can point out a great blue heron, a snowy egret, and a white ibis. I know the average wingspan of a brown pelican and can tell whether the tide is ebbing or flooding. I know when to harvest oysters and can cast a shrimp net with ease. I know how to catch crabs, sand dollars, and starfish. I know my port from my starboard and my bow from my stern. I know which “rope” is the spring line and how many species of shark live in our waters. I know how many acres of saltwater marshes exist in South Carolina and no matter how many times I’ve seen a dolphin surface, I’m always filled with scintillating awe.
After two hours cruising the creek and searching the sound, it was over. All too soon.
In so many ways, my day on the water in this land of perfect charm was … perfect.
It did me good to drink the sun and fill my belly with the Lowcountry.
And it does me good to share with you this place from which I come.

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I’m as GIDDY AS A 10-YEAR-OLD

Do you know why?! BECAUSE I AM GOING TO SEE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK ON SATURDAY NIGHT!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For my 11th birthday my mom spent DAYS trying to find a ticket to their concert but they were completely sold out. So instead I got a(nother!) poster and the VHS of all their music videos and tour footage. It wasn’t tickets, but when I opened it, I screamed like I was AT the concert. I was so excited! We watched that video over and over and over and over. I had ALL the posters BOP Magazine ever printed on my wall. In fact, when we evacuated for Hurricane Hugo in 1989 my mom told me to gather my precious belongings to take with me. You know what I took? My scriptures and all my posters of New Kids on The Block, which I tucked safely in my trapper keeper. And in 6th grade when it wasn’t “cool” to like them anymore, I still did. And I secretly listened to their music. I remember having to say out loud that they weren’t cool (so I could be) and inside I was totally crying. Ha ha.

Now, 20 years later … I AM GOING TO THEIR CONCERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Finally! I will scream, sway, dance, and maybe even cry. I’ll probably buy a t-shirt too. Ohmigosh. I seriously can’t even wait.

And to Rox, who had an extra ticket and thought to invite me?! Roxy I LOVE YOU! You are the best in the whole wide world and I will ever be in debt to you.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I’M GOING TO SEE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK ON SATURDAY!

 

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My Island Home

I come from an enchanted island and thus, had an enchanting childhood. Surrounded by the Atlantic and kept from the mainland only by a wildlife refuge and a pair of bridges, it was a place I clamored to escape as a teenager. But now, with my rearview in focus, I see the dream-world I grew up in.

Come. Sit with me … you in your rocking chair and I in mine, and I will tell you of these dreams over a tall glass of lemonade. Close your eyes. Drink the heat. A symphony of crickets and frogs will serenade, and these stories of oceans and skies will rest between us like the glistening air on your skin.

***

I am five. Maybe six. Sunbeams stream through a canopy of oaks kissing everything golden. My bony legs step lightly on the dusty path, fighting the urge to run. I don’t like getting dirt in my shoes. The dock is behind me and the red barn as tall as the pines surrounding just ahead. I look down at my left elbow and run my fingers gently over a little brown birthmark. It reminds me of her, and her name. Again I fight the urge to run. I know she is waiting.

Big, and black, and beautiful, with a lap you could get lost in, Bertha is there just like she always is with my special plate. The same plate she always sets aside just for me. Extra cornbread. She knows it’s my favorite. I eat every crumb. There in the bigness, and safety, of her lap.

***

I am eleven. Leah is my best friend because we both love to paint. Easy as that. Today we decide to sneak through the fence and explore under the bridge. The woods don’t seem as treacherous now that we’re eleven. Tiny drops of sweat trickle down the middle of my back. Finally we make it to the bridge and the water passes in and out over our toes.

All afternoon we pace up and down the shore, combing the broken oysters for jewels. We laugh and talk the way only eleven-year-old girls can. The world speeds by in cars overhead and time wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for our stomachs. Dinner will be ready soon, so with sun-pinkened noses we head for home. Running fast, holding tight to my treasures, this has been the best day of the summer. I have a jar full of shark teeth and mermaid fingernails.

***

I am twenty-one. Standing beside my dad. We’re on Bertha’s island again – but she’s not here anymore. I secretly wish for her cornbread. Behind us streams the chatter and laughter from the barn. This place is a novelty to them, the tourists. An island lost in time. But for us, it’s the essence of our home.

Flaming orange, the sun shoots blazing pink heat across the sky as it disappears into the sea. Seagulls fly overhead and a pair of dolphin swim lazily in the Sound. Fiddler crabs scurry underneath a warped dock and to our left an oak tree dripping with Spanish Moss reaches her bony fingers out over the marsh.

“This is what you’ll miss when you’re gone,” he finally says.

He was right.

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