Last week we visited the beach. Not our beach, but still the tang of the salt air made me miss you desperately. I walked the beach in the mornings, forcing myself out of bed to the yawning mouth of the ocean. I walked alone with my thoughts. My heart pounded with the surf.
On the third morning, after an hour with the ocean, I returned to the house and peeled off my shoes and socks. My foot was covered in blood. My sock was soaked through. Even my shoe was filled with blood, so filled that blood had seeped out of the top of my shoe. The sight of all this blood scared and confused me because I wasn’t hurt. Unbeknownst to me, I’d punctured my toe and it leaked and leaked while I left footsteps in the sand. In the shower I watched the hot water swirl all that blood down the drain. I sat under the streams of water and cried, but not for my toe. I cried for all the bags of blood that could not save you. I cried for all the times I walk the beach without you.
The night after we returned from the beach I had the most beautiful dream. In my dream I was crossing the Sundial Bridge, but it arched over an ocean inlet, not a river. As I crossed over, hundreds of whales swam in the water that rose just inches underneath the bridge. There were too many species of whales for me to count and they ranged from babies I could have held in my arms to long mothers snaking in the water beneath me. I remember humpbacks arching in the water, revealing their twin blowholes. They twisted and danced in the water, lobtailing on the surface of the water. They slapped their flukes up onto the bridge, leaving their foamy fingerprints for me to walk on. The water shimmered and bubbled in the presence of all those whales and in my dream I was delighted to witness such a gathering. I hurried to tell my friend, who was not yet to the bridge, but when my foot hit the pavement, I awoke in the cradle of my bed. I shut my eyes and tried to return to my dream, tried to return to the whales, but only sleep availed itself to me.
The next day, I couldn’t stop thinking about the dream and the thing I couldn’t let go of was that the only sound in my dream was the water lapping at the bank. The whales were silent, not making a sound when they fanned their huge tails on the bridge right in from of me, not singing a single note as they frolicked around me. Male humpbacks are the singers of the species and so I choose to think that the whales in my dream were females. Mothers and daughters, aunts and nieces, grandmothers and granddaughters, happy in the good company of each other.
The average heart of a humpback weighs 430 pounds and has 4 distinct chambers. I can’t imagine a heart that large in size, but what I can tell you is that in my dream, my heart was coursing with blood and when I woke up each chamber of my heart was filled with joy.
I hope I dream of the whales again. And I hope that when I do, you’ll be walking beside me.