I am participating in the Health Activist Writers Month Challenge, in which I publish a post every day for the month of April, based on health-related prompts.
April 14 – My dream day: Describe your ideal day. How would you spend your time? Who would you spend it with? Have you had this day? If not – how could you make it happen?
My perfect day…
It is a hot day and the sun is shining brightly. We are on a beach with lots of soft white sand, and the sound of the Atlantic waves fills our ears.
It is our first proper family holiday. I am with my husband and my two children, who at 2 and 4 years, are the perfect age for children to really enjoy a day at the beach. My brother is there too, and so is my mom, who has flown in from South Africa to be with us.
George, who is almost five, has found a new hobby. He lies down on the slope leading down to the water and he rolls himself down, down, down until he feels the waves kissing his body. Then he jumps up, and squealing with delight, he runs back up the slope to do it all again.
Not only is this fun for him, the physical motion of what he is doing seems to give him some kind of sensory input – something that many children with autism crave.
Two-year-old James and I are sitting near the water’s edge, and I am teaching him how to build a sand castle. I use the little shovel to put damp sand into the bucket. I pack it down as tightly as I can, and then turn the bucket upside down. I lift it off and we are left with a perfect tower for our castle. James stands up, and giggling like it’s the funniest thing in the world, he turns around and lets his bum go Plop! right on the tower.
“Again!” he shrieks, laughing so hard he can hardly talk. “Again, again, again!”
So we do it again. And again, and again, and again. We are not making any progress with the sand castle, but we are having a lot of fun.
My husband is in the water, doing battle with the waves. His life has not afforded him much opportunity to swim in the ocean – real ocean with big waves that raise you up and move with you and crash over your head. He turns and waves; I wave back and laugh as a wave hits him side-on, knocking him down.
I see my mom and brother in the distance, returning from a walk along the beach. They meander slowly to me, taking their time, and sit down beside me, James and George, who has finally tired of his roll-down-the-slope game. My husband comes out of the water and joins us. We discuss dinner plans, wonder whether we need to stop on the way back to the house for wine, and bury the kids up to their waists in sand, much to their amusement.
We are together. We are happy. We are family.
Later, as I am riding the waves, I think that there is only one thing stopping this day from being complete, and that is the absence of my dad. But then, as the ocean swirls around me – the same ocean in which Dad’s ashes were scattered thousands of miles away – I look around me, at the sunshine and the white beach where the people I love most are clustered around a smushed-up sandcastle.
As the laughter of my children floats through the air and reaches me, I think that Dad is probably with us after all.
(Photo credit: Kirsten Doyle)