I sit in the sand of a beach on Lake Huron watching the waves lap the shore. Off in the distance there are dark clouds on the horizon while boats ply the cold deep waters of this great freshwater sea. The rhythm of the waves is mesmerizing and takes me to a different place and time. Occasionally one of the waves will be much larger than the rest and crash into the shore with a sudden rage, snapping me out of my reverie. As it ebbs, the waves resume their siren song and I again slip into their hypnotic trance.
The place I am taken by the waves is touched with melancholy. The storm on the horizon mirrors the tumult I feel within my soul. Like the waters I watch, my emotions rise and fall. An occasional rouge wave arises unforeseen within me, threatening to drown me in sorrow. My youngest son no longer walks the beaches of life with me. He was caught up in a great storm created by angry men. They bound him with heavy anchor chains of hatred and drowned him in their seething sea of taunts and violence. The maelstrom not only swept away my son but also threatened to submerse me within the depths of grief and despair. I have weathered many storms on the sea of life during my many years but this was one I was not sure I could survive. I was in what seemed like an endless emotional hurricane; constantly bailing my little boat to stay afloat amid the emotional waves that verged on swamping me. I shook my fist at the heavens and cursed the storm, but the weather did not abate.
I drifted amid the waves, losing sight of the shore. A captain is supposed to go down with his ship and yet here I was, still alive while my boy was swept away by the riptides spawned in the storm. I felt like I failed in my role as a father. A father‘s role is to protect and defend of the family, but I had that right taken away from me when I was most needed. I could no more control the events of that day than I could control of the waves that tossed me about. I let go of the tiller and drifted aimlessly. If I ran aground against the rocky reefs it really did not matter. The charts I had drawn to navigate my way through life were suddenly useless and obsolete. The falling rain mixed with my tears, smudging the map, its lines blurring into an abstract pattern that hid my destination. I was lost.
As the tempest tossed me about I cried out and demanded justice. The evil that caused the storm should bow down at my feet and plead for my forgiveness! These feelings of selfishness did nothing to quell the seas. My anger sent bolts of lightning back to the clouds, strengthening their fury. My efforts were futile and drained me. I lied down in my little boat and fell asleep, drenched by the typhoon pervading my spirit.
I awoke slowly from my dreamless slumber to the sound of a raucous gull perched above my head on the gunwales of the dinghy. It cocked its head and looked at me, curious as to whether or not I was dead. I knew that I must be near shore so I sat up, startling the gull. As it flew away I noticed that the clouds were beginning to part revealing the beacon of a bright light on the shore. I was able to paddle towards it and did not crash on the rocks.
Another wave breaks on the shore of the lake in front of me and I again snap out of my daydream. I am again sitting on the beach but now the storm that I had fought so hard is now long past. My peace came only after I released the anger within me. Forgiveness is not a demand I can make of those who caused the tragedy but rather it is something that I needed to give to them. The loss of Christopher still touches me with sadness, but I now realize that it was he who was my light that led me to safety from the storm. I feel the presence of my son with me. His voice whispers in the sea breezes and surf saying “I am fine. I am with you. Be happy”. I see him in every sunrise and sunset and know that he is well.
I rise from the sand, turning my back to the dark clouds disappearing beyond the horizon and walk from the shore to celebrate Father’s Day.