I took my four-year-old to one of my dad’s favorite Northwest spots, Mukilteo beach, yesterday. My dad would often sit in his chair, gazing out at the ocean, taking in the beauty of the surrounding islands. I often wondered if he was thinking about his Navy days. Or simply admiring the view. Probably a little of both. I’d written my dad a letter a couple years before he died and told him that Mukilteo would be a place that I would always be able to return to, to think of him, feel his presence, and talk to him. Yesterday marked 1 1/2 years since he died—I could think of no better way to spend the sunny, chilly afternoon.
My son and I grabbed a football and some snacks and headed out. As we passed Boeing and began to approach Mukilteo, a thick fog covered the area. We parked near the playground, hopped out of the car and went right for the beach.”It’s so foggy, you can’t see where the ocean ends and the sky begins,” I said to him.
He proceeded to throw some rocks into the water and we listened to the ferry’s foghorn blow. We then hit the playground for some Seahawks-inspired football, where he instructed me to “Go deep.” Soon after, we returned to the beach for some more rock throwing. As he meandered along the shore, I hung back, looking at shells, rocks and seaweed. At one point, I stopped and reached down for a rock that rested right at my feet. It was dark gray and smooth. I picked it up and smiled.
It was shaped like a heart.
But a heart nonetheless.
It was like an early Valentine in the sand, waiting for me.
I tucked it in my pocket and made my way over to my son, who waged an all-out air attack on the roots of an unsuspecting, washed-up log. Grunting and hurling rocks and pieces of driftwood, he warned an imaginary foe of impending defeat. He uttered some manly “boo-yaas” and continued the walloping.
“Mom, how many rocks do you think are here?” he asked.
“A lot,” I wisely and knowingly replied.
“Like three hundred?”
“Probably,” I answered.
I stood there, smiling as I watched him, clutching the heart-shaped one in my pocket.
He gave one more “boo-yaa” and raised his arms in victory.
Heaven met earth, just like the sky met the sea, and I knew, just knew, that I was loved from above.