|SAM with lucky redfish (it's not a keeper/outside of legal "slot size," so released) on 11-11-2012, Pensacola Beach Pier|
It certainly does not lull me into complacency with my lot in life or anything else for that matter. It's reminding me to notice things--expect the unexpected.
When you live near the sea (or maybe it's when you've lived for more than a few decades), you get used to having marvelous, unexpected things happen. The wind picks up, and the waves crash with increasing intensity and frequency. Life is charged with possibility.
|Body of electric ray (?) found on beach near Destin, 11-3-2012|
Several years ago, on a day not unlike Veteran's Day 2012, SAM, son, and I went to Pensacola Beach, expecting to have a sun-and-fun-filled day on the water, kayaking and relaxing on the sand. The wind and waves had kicked up a notch more than we expected. Kayaking in the Gulf was not an option so we relaxed on the beach and watched some adventurous souls venture into the chilly and choppy sea. There were rays of some sort darting to and fro in the water, and some people on the beach were following their progress.
Not more than an hour had passed when we heard some commotion happening nearby. Apparently, some swimmer was in trouble. People were yelling, ambulance sirens announced the arrival of emergency responders, and presently the body of a young man was dragged onto the beach from the crashing surf. We stayed where we were, not wanting to get in the way of some form of help arriving every few minutes from the parking lot nearby. A group of young men fell to their knees and began to pray. What was happening? We talked to some other people nearby who had ventured close to the tragic scene and then returned to their beach blankets, all of them with a stunned look on their faces. Apparently, a young man visiting the beach with a group from a local Christian college had a sudden heart attack and collapsed in the water. We all watched as a helicopter swooped down, creating a sudden, unnatural sandstorm. It collected the body of the young man along with a couple of his companions and disappeared in a cloud of noise and sand.
We could learn nothing more than speculation from the people we encountered as we walked toward the water's edge. The rays were still swimming back and forth along the beach, seemingly more agitated than before, and the swimmers were all beached. No one seemed eager to take a chance on meeting with something else dangerous or unexpected in the water.
The young man who was airlifted to a nearby hospital was never revived, we later found out. We have often wondered what could have happened to him. Finding the body of an electric ray (at least that's what we think it was) on the beach last weekend brought to mind the young man's demise. Somehow the connection of rays and a young man's sudden death made sense. Really? Death makes no sense. Neither does the wind, nor do the waves. Grace is nothing if not full of life, even in death.