In the years that Tim and I lived in Somerville, MA, we traveled to the ocean often. Well, not as often as we should have, considering we lived just miles from the sea, but often enough. Scratch that.
Sometimes we went to the ocean. It was good.
Our favorite trip of the summer was camping in Maine. In the beginning of August, we would pack up our car with the camping gear we used exclusively for this adventure, and drive to Georgetown Island. We stayed in the same campsite, overlooking the bay, where we would spend the weekend with our dear friends, Hannah and Andy, and their children.
We would go to the bay at low tide and walk the tidal sands, past men clamming in the mist. We would go to the beach and play with the kids in the sand. On Saturday, we would order lobsters from a local fisherman, who would deliver them to our campsite, freshly steamed. We would sit by the campfire every night, drink wine, listen to waves, and just enjoy the company of dear friends.
Then life started to shift, as it always does. Our friends announced their separation the same month we announced our relocation to Wisconsin. We moved 1000 miles west. The ocean was no longer a short drive away. Our yearly trip no longer seemed a possibility with babies and airfare and work schedules. We would sit and talk about our memories. We would dream of those future days when it would be possible again to enjoy woodsmoke and seafood overlooking the bay.
This weekend, the kids and I went to Maine. This time for my cousin’s wedding, and a short stay with family friends. We went with my parents. It was refreshing, to smell the saline in the air, to watch my children play in the tidal sands, to eat lobster and enjoy the company of friends.
It hurt too.
It made me miss Tim and the memories we shared. Because he was the only other keeper of many of those memories. He was the one beside me on the long drive up the coast. He was the one next to me in our chilly tent on dewy mornings. He was the love I shared those moments of joy with.
I’m the only one who remembers now.
It was painful to see my children playing in the water. To see my son excitedly collecting stones and shells and to watch my daughter’s wonder at the vast sea. To know how much happiness it would have given to him. To want to see him explore along-side our babies. To know that he will never share those memories.
Tim and I were master travelers with one another. We balanced one another out and filled each other’s needs with our own presence. We took turns handling logistics and stress. We carried each other. I don’t have my companion in the world any more. My parents were massively helpful with my children, as they always are, but they are not Tim.
So I missed him.
I felt a lot of pain in the days I once would have felt joy.
And it’s not fair. It will never be.
But I am grateful. For the opportunity to return to Maine, and the opportunities ahead. To hear my children’s laughter. To smell the ocean air, and stand, fully feeling in the cold, misty mornings. To celebrate the simple beauty of nature. To taste lobster and drawn butter.
To still be alive.
I’ll keep living for you, Tim. For our children.
We’ll make more memories. And I’ll always carry yours.