A breeze of tangible relief caresses our ash-encrusted, and laughter-wracked, bodies. Wearing my father-in-law's ashes like some Native American war paint, I unveil the sacrificial yellow tulips, secure in the knowledge that nobody has ever been convicted of throwing flowers in the ocean. We wait for the next incoming wave and then ceremoniously toss them out into the sea. Expecting the tulips to languish beautifully in the water as we contemplate the meaning of life and death, I am surprised when the ocean instantaneously swallows them whole. Somewhere Moby Dick, the Big Fish, and my outlaw-dad are getting their due.
"Thanks. They're delicious. Yellow was always my favorite color. Hells bells, I invite you to join me when it's your time."
Exchanging surprised looks, we agree that our crime is complete, and we both feel relaxed for the first time today. Now is our time to walk the beach and breathe in the rapture of this ocean morning. My buddy suddenly releases my hand and points to a tiny yellow speck way down the beach. The ocean has returned one of its tulip offerings to us, as if it knows we were robbed of their beauty too soon. A feeling of wonder and awe expands in my chest threatening to burst. Completely lighthearted and giddy, we adjust our beach stroll to retrieve the tulip.
"Thought you'd like that! It's hard to let go when someone you love dies. The hardest part is that grief never really goes away, and more than likely you'll miss me for the rest of your lives. Oh Hell, or maybe not!"
More yellow tulips continue to wash ashore as we meander back to the parking lot. A little girl has collected some of the tulips along with her seashells, as if one can always find fresh flowers at the ocean's edge. He would like that. We reach the parking lot and it is starting to fill with cars and people noise. Couples and families are now just beginning to enjoy their day on the beach. It won't last forever.
Birth and death,
Joy and sorrow,
Meet as one.
Clem Regner 1917-1998