I Need a New Beach

I said goodbye to my brother last week.  Well, really, I said goodbye to Carolina Beach last week.  Before he died in July, 2013, my brother worked and lived around Carolina Beach for about 30 years. So, many years ago, when I decided to run away from home, I ran to Carolina Beach, 4 hours down I40.

I had never been on my own.  I went to college 25 miles from home, met the retired man I now live with at 20, married him at 22 and had 2 kids by age 27.  I chose to be a 30-something stay-at-home mom of 2 little girls with a husband who was gone overnight several nights a week.

I needed to go away alone every so often to find the Robin hidden inside the wife, mother, friend, volunteer, room mother, and Sunday School teacher.

I felt safe at Carolina Beach.  My brother worked on a charter fishing boat, but he showed me where a couple of his friends worked if I needed help. I knew where the police station was and he knew some of the officers.  He pointed me to a safe motel, where I could get an affordable oceanfront room.

I discovered that the ocean fed my spirit and my soul.  I could rest there. Carolina Beach became my “thin place”–a place where the barrier between me and God became permeable.  I found Robin.

Last week I spent 2 nights in an oceanfront room.  I couldn’t rest.  I couldn’t feel God. I missed my brother.

Down one street was the motel he and his wife managed in the 1980’s.  Down the street behind McDonald’s and Hardees,  the charter fishing boats docked in their designated spaces.  I used to go watch when his boat came in and he cut up the fish they caught that day.  Near the boats was the diner where he took me to eat.  Across from the hotel, behind the pancake house, was one of the nice restaurants where I’d buy him dinner. It’s a seafood restaurant, but sometimes he’d order steak.  I’d laugh.

He always understood that I came to the beach to be alone.  He spent his days interacting with people and treasured his evenings alone.  We usually had dinner once or twice while I was there.  It took years for us to get comfortable enough with each other to sustain a conversation through a meal.

When he got cancer last year, he called me.  When he was admitted to the hospital, a week before he died, he asked me to come.  I was with him when he died.  I’m grateful now for all those uncomfortable dinners.

One day soon, my daughters and their families will join me and the retired man I live with for one last visit to Carolina Beach.  We will pour his ashes in the ocean and say goodbye.

I need a new beach.  Someplace where I can rest.  And tend my soul.

 

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Published in: on September 30, 2014 at 9:05 am  Comments (9)  
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  1. Much of my youth and many of my years as an adult was spent on vacation at Carolina Beach. My three boys still remember the Paradise Inn, moon light cruises, the “boat docks”, the “Cheerio”, Capt. Winner’s and so much more. For the longest time, it was the only place I could find peace. But peace is not a place…I finally have figured that out. I still miss Carolina Beach, the way it was.

    • Me, too, Bob. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. The beach is definitely a place for healing and finding one’s self. I’ve been to Topsail, NC, a couple times and like it a lot. My family is going there for a vacation in 2015 (Mom, Dad, siblings and their families). North Carolina has a lot of great beaches. Good luck with your search …

    • Thanks, Bev. I’ll check out Topsail.

  3. I so understand that. We have a lot of beaches in South Carolina! Come see us.

    • Thanks, Cathy. There are so many, I’m overwhelmed by the idea of having to choose.

  4. There is a shoreline with your name on it, any time you wish. key is on the R rear post under the edge of the porch. Turn on the breakers marked in red. Clean sheets, plenty of peanuts and tuna – with you where ever you are.

    • I don’t know who you are, but your offer is lovely!

  5. We lived in the Keys and the retired man I live with was a commercial fisherman. What a life we had living aboard a boat and rocking with the tide. God is not hard to find in a place like that if you can quiet the chatter in your head.

    I’m sorry about your loss Robin–and glad too that you had all those awkward dinners. Being comfortable is overrated.


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