The sky was Sea Bubbles blue. I know because I’d just seen that shade in my daughter’s box of 64 washable markers. Bright blue. Exactly the color of blue a kid would reach for to color in the vast, vivid expanse that stretched above us. Beautiful, bright, Sea Bubbles blue.
And we stood in the gulf waters beneath that brilliant blue sky. The waves were high and frothy, remnants of the last night’s storm, and as the green water rolled toward us, gathering the energy to crash against us, I held her in front of me, my arms loosely looped around her body, under her arms. She faced out toward the gulf, ready for me to swing her up and over the white foam that dashed against us. It was a new game she’d invented – wave jumping – and while she had fun doing it on her own, with my added height, we could venture out further and take on the bigger waves. She squealed and shrieked with delight as I swung her body over the water; she kicked her feet, pretending to walk on the water, and shouted, “Again, Mama! Do it again!”
And she laughed and played in the never-ending roll of waves and she had no idea the salty droplets I tasted on my lips were not from the gulf splashing up in our game, but from the tears streaming down my face behind my oversized sunglasses. She couldn’t see me and the crash of the surf muffled my silent sobs.
We were here, in the ocean, playing on a gorgeous spring break afternoon…and Kevin wasn’t with us.
I cried because I miss him.
I miss the life we lived together, the love and fun we shared.
I cried because when I finally begged off from our wave jumping game and settled onto the beach, I watched her play in the water and she was so beautiful and vivacious and sparkling and when I turned to share a conspiratorial grin with him about how amazing our daughter is…he wasn’t there.
Through tears, I texted his sister because I needed someone to know how very much I missed him at that moment. She texted back immediately: “I know he’s watching over you guys and smiling. He’s proud of you for still having her live life and do the things that she enjoys and that makes him smile.”
It should make me smile, too, because he and I agreed: no matter what, we would absolutely not let our battle with cancer rob our daughter of her childhood. Kevin pushed himself to go places and do things with her, even when he was tired and worn down and sick from chemo. He wanted her to have happy memories of him, and I thank God every day that she does. And he would not want us to hole up in the house now, curtains drawn and lights off, mourning him. He trusted me to keep making her childhood special, to keep making happy memories.
So I do.
I stand in the gulf waters on spring break and help her jump waves. And her joy is infectious and the waves are no match for her happy determination to hurdle over them.
It makes me smile — just like Kevin wanted.
She is happy. She is living life – just like her Daddy wanted.
In the warm rays of the sun glowing down on us, I can feel him. His smile, his laugh, his shake of the head at our whimsical girl and her reckless abandonment to joy.
She jumps the waves.
One after another.
And I think a little of her Daddy is in her, pushing me to jump, too. Jump when the waves of grief roll in and threaten to overwhelm. Jump high and reach for the little things – so many things – that still bring happy to our lives. Jump for the bright promises that remind me God’s in control and He has a plan for what the future will be for me and my girl.