My extended family - Grandma, aunts, uncles, and cousins - vacationed at the beach every summer for 11 years.
We began the tradition when I was 11, and I bunked up with my 18 year old cousin. Our crew morphed throughout the years, adding spouses, grandchildren, babies, and more cousins, until there were more than 20 of us in a sprawling house with a wooden porch that stretched right out into the sand.
It was a big mess of beach towels, sunscreen, Klondike bars, line dancing, trouble, and loud.
We loved it. We. Loved. It.
Robb joined me for the last two trips our family took to the beach. I love that those memories hold him too.
In our days on the beach, between snacks and TV and reapplying sunscreen (okay, tanning oil), my dozen cousins and I spent our days in the ocean. We raced on the waves with skimboards and rafts, we skinned our knees and shoulders in the sand. We got sunburns and highlights; we built sand castles and friendships.
Man, all this reminiscing has me ready to sign up this very day for a reunion trip.
But that's not actually the reason why I have chosen to write about the ocean, the waves, the sand.
I've realized that the ocean, waves, and sand present an important picture of how I feel today, this week, on this side of six months.
I feel like I can touch the bottom again.
I remember all too well the fun that could quickly turn to fear in those ocean waves: ride out too far, get in over my head, and I was suddenly grasping for safety and gasping for air.
But as I rode the waves, great and small, they carried me toward the shore.
And I could finally touch the bottom again, feel the security of the sand, albeit shifting.
Even if the water is up to my chin, I'm breathing. And my feet can touch.
And it won't always be as scary as it was.