High tide

“You can’t look at it that way,” I had told him. “This won’t last forever.”

He looked at me with arched eyebrows and opened his mouth, but I had continued before he could speak. “This life is like a journey along a beautiful beach. It’s great to walk along the seashore, feel the moist sand squeeze between your toes, and smell the salty breeze. A lot of days are wonderful, with clear skies and a gentle sun. But some days there are storms. And some days the tide comes in and there is very little beach left.”

“If that’s the analogy, then right now the beach is five feet underwater, and the rain hasn’t let up in two years,” he said.

“I know,” I said softly, hooking my finger under his chin and lifting his eyes to mine. “But that’s the thing. The sun will come out. The tide will recede. And until it does, you’ve just got to keep your feet down and your head high. You can make it through this, and it will get better. It will.” I had slid my hand along his strong cheekbone, caressed his ear.

He pulled my hand from his face. His grip had not been too firm, but it was without the tenderness that normally accompanied his touch. He shook his head and stared at the ground, a long, slow sigh escaping his lips. I patted his arm and said, “The sun is already breaking through the clouds. The tide is already on its way out. You’ll see. It’ll happen before you know it.”

I hadn’t known how right I was. Within the week, the tide was out, but it took my husband with it. I continued my walk along life’s beach, but the sun baked the sand until my feet blistered from its touch. The wind whipped unpleasantly around my face. And everywhere was the stench of death as the tide pools dried up at low tide.

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