The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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            Warm sand quietly scatters as my tanned feet leisurely move toward the welcoming drone of the pale-green ocean.  “Ah, Topsail”, I breathe as my eyelids lazily drift closed and my nostrils flare.  I inhale deeply, and my lungs willingly expand, appreciating the unmistakable scent of damp, salty air.  Content, I momentarily absorb North Carolina’s soft ocean-side breeze as the morning sun greets my shorn head with a friendly heat.  A sweet and familiar voice tenderly disturbs my slumberous state, “Albert”, my name flows gently from my wife’s lips.   Encouraged to re-open, my beaming eyes joyfully address the image of Kathy blissfully smiling in my direction as her chestnut brown hair charmingly dances in the zephyr.  With a genuine grin, I cheerfully amble toward her.  Greeting her with a kiss, I shift my eyes to the marvelous vision of my three children frolicking in the foamy, shallow waves.  Even as I turn back to Kathy, my smile widens as my ears collect the sound of three sets of children’s feet playfully slapping against the wet oceanfront sand.  Entwining my wife’s hand in mine, I excitedly walk toward the buzz of the ocean, calling “Matt, Jenna, Luke! Let’s use the raft!”  With a quick squeeze, my wife drops my hand, contently grabs a Patricia Cornwall novel from our overstuffed beach bag, and gleefully exclaims, “Have fun! I’ll take plenty of pictures.”

Rushing into the chatter of the choppy waves, my children and I excitedly drag a large, navy and yellow raft into the frothing foam.  We eagerly bolt into the ocean’s depths, only turning to face the beckoning shoreline after Luke’s four-year-old frame disappears beneath the watery surface.  In a singular motion, I swiftly locate my youngest, rescue him from the ocean’s grasp, and sling his small, tanned body onto the raft’s buoyant center beside his giggling older sister.  Poised and positioned, Matthew and I simultaneously bellow, “ready, set, go!” as we forcefully stride forward in a successful effort to propel the raft to shore.  Without a fleeting moment to spare, my eldest and I athletically leap to join the others and ride the crowded raft toward the glistening beach.  “Again! Again!” Jenna jovially demands as she slaps her tiny fists against the sandy ground.   “Okay, okay Jenna” I chuckle as I happily greet my wife’s youthful seventy-eight year old father with a shout, “Come to join us Pappap?”  “Of course!” he belts as he leads the animated crew into the warm ocean water for a second of many similar rides on the surf.  

The sun slowly rotates throughout the sky as we laugh our way through the afternoon and evening. The day grows old, but our love remains fresh. Reflecting for a moment, I appreciate the view of my wife quietly reading on the shoreline and my father-in-law happily interacting with his grandchildren.  The nostalgic tradition of a day at the beach, the unconditional love of family, and the picturesque notion of wholesome fun fondly resonates in my mind. 

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