You plunged backwards into Kahaluu Bay and the sound that escaped your lips was a mix of joy, excitement, relief and memory. I was so happy that day you visited us in Kona many years ago. Who knew it would be the last time you would ever experience the joy of getting into the ocean again. You chose to live next to the crashing waves of the Oregon Coast, but you could never enter the water, but here in Hawaii, you had that one chance and you bought a new bathing suit to take it. I remember when I was a child and you would enter our swimming pool the same way. And even then, I never saw you dive down and get your perfect coif wet. I thought for years that older women just did not submerge themselves in bodies of water. Here again, you swam with your head above water and my kids laughed on the sand waiting for you to dive down to see the yellow tang. But, just being in the cool ocean water was enough for you. That day was amazing, as you had a chance to experience the beach I taught my children to learn to snorkel . You stood up after a few minutes and announced you were done. DONE! We were shocked that you had flown 2500 miles to visit us and your one ocean swimming opportunity, you took in 10 minutes and said it was enough.
Years later, as I was swimming under a rock cliff face, sucking up the pure blue joy of being in the ocean, I realized after about ten minutes, I got what I needed. Perhaps, you just needed a few minutes to connect with the energy of the ocean, have your pores filled with sea salt and have those moments of weightlessness the Hawaiian waters provide. I just remember your sheer happiness. That smile.
Mom, as I miss you today, I have that memory and I sometimes enter the ocean backwards and just allow myself to fall in and I think of you. And in that moment, I experience what you did and as the years go by, memories of happy moments at beaches, with palm trees, and beaming children nearby come to me in those moments as I am engulfed in the chill of the water.