I’ve become an early riser.

I awoke and dressed for the beach. A string of rocks angle in from the ocean to the shore creating a pool and I’ve been watching it change. The mornings are the most dramatic as the tide is in and the waves crash over the tops of the rocks. I was photographing this when I saw someone in the corner of my eye.

This is when I met Julianna.

I thought she might be the owner of our cottage, who arrived the day before, to stay in the main house. So I asked her if she was Patricia. No, she was not, she was Julianna.

We chatted for a minute and she asked me had we been to Eleuthera before. I told her yes but this was our first trip without our boys. I told her Chad had recently married and Drew was living in Florida. She congratulated me.

And then she said….. there are many seasons of your life, and each one is good but I found this one, your season, to be particularly sweet. There will be a time when the grandchildren come and that is good too but in a different way a different season, but this one now, I was most fond of it.

As we parted ways she looked back at me and said “Enjoy this time and don’t waste a moment.”

My eyes stung as she left.

Julianna walked the length of the beach twice a day, alone. Sometimes we would talk and sometimes just a wave. But her first words stayed with me.

I found a beautiful heart-shaped piece of coral one day on a distant beach. I tucked it in my pocket each time I went to “our” beach in case I saw Julianna. I wanted to give it to her and thank her for her words.

Late in our trip, Kevin and I were sitting at the beach. The waves were gentle enough and I had built a sandcastle and we were watching the afternoon pink creep across the sky. 

I saw someone coming in the distance. I knew it was Julianna. I watched her stop and face the ocean and stand there for some time. I took this picture thinking it was her. 

And it was.

I reached for my rock but it was not in my pocket.

As she neared, I told her I had something for her, a heart-shaped rock to remember me by and I thank her for her words of wisdom.  She had come to swim with her brother. I said go swim, I will leave it on your coverup. I headed for our cottage and I looked back in time to see her fling her coverup without care and head into the ocean to join her brother. I motioned for Kevin to snap a picture. 

With the rock, I walked to Julianna’s coverup. She saw me coming and headed toward me. I met her where the waves hit our thighs. Her in a bathing suit, me with shorts, now soaked. I showed her the heart and thanked her for her words and how they touched me, more than that really. We hugged many times before she turned to swim again.

I folded up her coverup and placed the heart on top.

I thought to pick it up again and take a picture of her and her brother swimming. And placed it back.

70-year-old siblings swimming in the ocean.

When was the last time I swam with my brother?

Don’t waste a moment.