Readers, I would like to talk to you about my mother, if I may. I have recently been in contact with her spirit, and it seems worth writing about. My mother, Anne, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in March of 2010 and died 8 months later. It was a ravaging, unforgiving, horrible cancer and she met it with amazing strength and grace. My sister pointed this out to me the other day when I was whining like a little baby about my thyroid cancer and having to be hypothyroid for longer than I thought I would have to be. I have not been nearly as strong as my mother was. But this is beside the point, and not what I want to get into. I have a different story to tell.
In November of 2010 we scattered some of my mother's ashes at the beach close to where she lived, and my father scattered the rest at our family cabin in North Carolina. Our dog Ellie's ashes are at the cabin as well. These are two places she loved.
We were all together at that beach this summer, staying in a different house than we used to rent. It was at the end of the island where my father had heard there were supposed to be a lot of sand dollars.
Here the island had lots of interesting tide pools and an inlet where one could supposedly find them. So I was thrilled to hear this because I love sand dollars and have a dream of collecting enough out of which to someday make Christmas ornaments. I started looking for them on a Saturday during my first longish beach walk with my sister. I wasn't paying too much attention because we were busy catching up, but I did notice a dearth of sand dollars.
The searching became a little more serious the next day when it again turned up no sand dollars. I asked Rob to come to the end of the island with me while I swam across the inlet to the deserted island about 3/4 of a mile away. I was sure that's where they were hiding. It was a lovely swim at low tide with a sand bar in the middle to break it up. I communed with some pelicans. No sand dollars to be found on the island, but it was great fun to be over there with people who had arrived by boat. "You swam here?"
Sunday night I dreamed about sand dollars. On Monday morning I swam over again by myself and again, no luck. Again, a nice relaxing swim. I kept looking every time I went on a walk. I spoke with a friend who lives there all summer and she said there had been relatively no sand dollars this year.
Activities picked up and I didn't swim back over to the island for a few days. On Wednesday my brother and sister joined me for the swim. I had talked it up as a relaxing and enjoyable little adventure. Unfortunately, it was at high tide and the ocean was rushing in and the currents were really strong. It was a tough crossing, but my sister was a trooper after one mini panic attack.
We made it back to our beach chairs without being swept out to sea (oh the drama), cracked open some Bud Lights and chilled for a while. It was my birthday and it had been perfect thus far. I was thinking that this was exactly where I wanted to be. Sitting in a beach chair, looking at the ocean, letting my thoughts drift aimlessly . . . Then all of a sudden I stood up and told my sister I wanted to jump in the water to rinse off. I wasn't particularly hot or anything. I don't really know why I stood up, but I walked down to the end of the ocean and lo and behold I looked down and saw this:
A perfect, lone sand dollar. Right there at my feet. I picked it up in disbelief and walked back to my sister. "Mom is wishing me happy birthday." She agreed.
Next up, I talk to my mother at the cabin.