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A Day For Seagulls
A smile spread across my face as warm sand was squashing in between my toes. That was one of the sensations I missed most about the beach. The feeling of the millions of tiny grains of sand worming in and out of your toes. But that wasn’t all I had to take in. Their was the beautiful and mighty cries of the seagulls playing music just above the beach sands. Their was the salty water smell lingering in the air that gently stung my nose. And then their was of course the warm sun glistening against my skin.
“Remember, no going out past your knees.” I heard my grandmother lecture. “These waters are not the safest, and you could get hurt if you are not careful.” She quickly added before she lost my attention. I was so caught up in the beach, I barely shook my head.
I remember a soft hand gripping mine and my legs all of a sudden making me run as the sand flew by me. I heard the faint laughing in my ear as I looked at the ocean waters for the first time. I remember the waves all looking like arms reaching out for us and inviting us for a swim.
“Look at that jellyfish Sarah! It’s big! It’s really big!” I heard my seven year old cousin Megan happily screamed out in joy. She had been with us that summer, joining us on vacation for the third time, spread over three years. Megan’s mom, my Aunt Judy, and my grandmother Annie, had been planning this trip for a while now, so everything was perfect. And perfect it was. Just us girls enjoying the summer at the beach. That is the best kind of vacation there is.
“It sure is!” I quickly agreed looking down at the huge slimy blob squiggling in the mucky sand.
I was eight years old that warm sunny day. I was eight years old and this had been my fifth vacation at Ocean City, Maryland. I can easily collect all the great memories that went along with that vacation from the long nights spent walking the cool boardwalk, the endless smiles at the beach and the amusement parks, and the taste of the best boardwalk fries on the world.
“I want to go in the beach now!” Megan complained interrupting my thoughts.
“Race you!” I screamed trudging through the muddy wet sand and diving into the shallow waters, jumping over waves not yet broken.
We were both pummeled by the ocean waves several times and thrown back towards the coast each time we attempted to go out further. Each time the current would drag us sideways, us stumbling, and having to drag each other back directly across from the umbrella my grandma and Aunt Judy had set up.
“These waves are strong.” I commented once we were both close to the umbrella once again. However, Megan was already trotting towards the shore.
“Look at this seashell Sarah! I want to keep it!” She yelled, running off to take the shell back next to our belongings. I looked down studying the shells and admired the millions of tiny shells painting the coastal line.
Megan ran back out and we quickly ran out to try to battle the bigger waves. The stronger waves often briefly pushed us to the ocean floor. We would quickly spring up laughing and choking on the bitter water.
“Hey come on!” I said pointing to the umbrella which now looked like a candy lollipop from a distance. So we fought against the water that was crashing on to our legs making it almost impossible to walk.
I glanced behind my shoulder as I heard a low growling rumble of a building wave. It was gaining strength and height fast as it sucked all the water behind us, menacingly creeping across the ocean surface. I just stood their gawking at the huge wave, unable to speak.
The next thing I knew was being lifted far above the ocean surface, probably able to taste the clouds above us. My head bobbled on the surface of the wave. I let out a murmured scream, my mouth filled with slimy water and seaweed.
“Megan?” I said panicking, hoping and praying she was okay.
“I’m fine.” She choked out, her words stuck in her throat. “I just want to go back now.” She whimpered.
“Yeah, don’t worry, we are going back now. These waves are out of control. I don’t know if it is just the current, or were going to get a storm later, but it doesn’t matter. Lets go.” I mumbled out exhaustedly, forcing my legs to break through the thick water.
“Please hurry.” I added grabbing her arm and tugging her back towards the shore.
“I don’t see the umbrella!” She cried.
“Listen, just keep walking, and keep your eyes open. We can’t be that far from the umbrella. Were fine.” I calmly said trying to settle her down and keep her from crying.
“I want mommy! Maybe we ca-”
I believe everything happens for a reason. I have believed that before that day, and more so all the days following. Their must be a reason we didn’t hear, see, or feel that wave behind us. Maybe it was destiny or fate. Maybe we were just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe I will never know why it happened. But regardless of the reason-I am glad it did.
* * *
I flailed my arms and legs wildly trying to break through the water. It was all happening so fast, the water just a blur. I was trying to get a grip on what was happening. I felt the water angrily smashing against me, I felt the broken rock and debris on the ocean floor cut and scrape my back and legs, but I could not wrap my head around the situation. My lungs burnt like fire, pleading for air. A fire the ocean could not put out. A fire that took over my body, growing and growing, until I no longer had control. One wave after another pounded against my body, pinning me to the ocean floor. I felt for sure I was going to die. Their was nothing I could do to fight off the outraged beast now sentencing me to death. I was another one of the oceans helpless victims, to tiny and weak and helpless to possibly defend myself. I was going to die.
Right then, I felt something. Something I have never felt before, nor try to explain. It was like I knew I had to live, and was going to live. I felt something near me, a presence, a reason to breath again. And in that moment I was being pulled up, floating to the surface. I could not see what was happening, but I felt a tingling on my arm. Someone or something, bigger then anybody, bigger then anything, giving me a second chance.
I broke out of the water, madly gasping for the oxygen I desperately needed. I rubbed my eyes and kept inhaling the precious air, which I so often took for granite.
“Sarah!” I heard Megan yell grabbing onto me coughing and dazed.
“Megan, I’m so glad your okay!” I said hugging her.
“Thanks to you I am!” She told me smiling.
“No, I think it was you that saved me. I felt it, pulling my arm.” I corrected her.
“Maybe it was an angel. Do you think it was?” She asked giggling. But in that question alone, their was no question, but a answer…the answer. I had a guardian angel with me that day to save me from the waters cold death grip. An angel that thought I was supposed to live, wanted me to live. I believe now and ever there is a purpose to why we were chosen to live, that we have great things we were meant to achieve. And now, even though I am older, I realize even on the worst days, I must never take life for granite. You do never truly know when it could all end. And that is the lesson I believe I was meant to learn.
* * *
Megan and I eventually made it back to the boardwalk. We ended up several blocks away from were we were supposed to be. Then we saw my grandmother and Aunt Judy, looking terrified, arms held open.
“Are you guys okay? What happened? We went down to the beach to check on you guys and we didn’t see you. We were so worried something had happened.” My grandmother told us first. They briefly asked us if we were okay, and after confirming we were, we explained what happened. They both sat down listening to our amazing story, word for word. At the end, they didn’t even look surprised.
“Of course you guys have guardian angels. They are all around us.” They both agreed.
And I did truly believe it, smiling at Megan, and all the seagulls were crying out their beautiful songs, louder and more glorious then ever before.