This morning, the dogs and I hiked down the steep hill at Salt Creek. As the ocean came into view, I was pleased to see crowds of surfers and on-lookers lining the shore, scrutinizing the dozen surfers paddling frantically into the next breaker. Trucks with WSA logos were parked all along the beach road. As we continued, a woman stopped me to meet my dogs. I asked about the event. "It is a Western Surfing Association competition. I'm taking a break."
"What's your role?" I asked.
"I'm a judge."
"Oh how nice." Offering a connection, I replied, "I only know Kevin Skavarna in the surfing world."
"Oh I know Kevin. He's wonderful."
We smiled at each other enjoying the common ground of world surfing champion Kevin. I felt proud to have known him since he was a little boy, and to be able to share about him. We exchanged our names and smiled our goodbyes.
As I walked away I passed a trio of wet- suited adolescent boys deeply engaged in an animated discussion. They were wet and shimmering. I admired their slim forms and how heavily engrossed they seemed in what they were doing. They were so in the moment. I thought they personified life itself.
Life itself. I thought about that for a moment as I continued on. A beautifully perceptive participant in my loss support group two days earlier had described her recently deceased husband as being "life itself." That description resonated with me. What a powerful testament to the man he had been; what a beautiful compliment.
After awhile I found a picnic table next to the water's edge and sat down. The dogs settled in the shade under the table, while I gazed at the scenes unfolding around me. A couple walked by arm in arm. The young man tickled the girl. She giggled, leaning into him and smiling. I thought how sweet that simple gesture was. A teen came by with his dog and caught my eye. He was sporting the tallest Mohawk hair-do I had seen in some time! The surfers continued to master the waves as the photographers snapped photos. Life was all around me.
Somehow it provided a fresh counterpoint to my last two weeks. I had just completed long nine days supporting my husband at Mission Hospital. Ken had undergone a very serious, life threatening heart surgery. Those days were new proof to me of the preciousness of human life and the extent we go to protect it. During the eight days he was in the ICU, I witnessed a number of "Code Trauma" emergencies. I watched as the medical staff rushed to the rescue. One night after there had just been another "Code Trauma," it was time for me to leave Ken's room. As I walked down the hall, I passed by the patient who was the subject of the emergency. I was awed to witness an entire room full of professionals tending to her. The next day I was relieved to see that she was still in her room.
During those difficult days, I grew used to the wailing of ambulances and fire engines as they rushed to the ER department; first responders fighting to keep people alive. I had the opportunity to witness our modern medicine in action, to see up close the dedication the doctors, nurses, paramedics, and hospital staff have as they do everything within their power to support life. It was a lesson in living.
I understand that it is easy to be affected by the negativity around us. I was recently in New Zealand, only missing the massacre in Christchurch by 15 hours. Bad things happen. The news is full of emphatic stories detailing the worst in humanity.
My time at Salt Creek today, and my nine days at Mission Hospital, have provided me with a renewed commitment to the importance of celebrating the beauty of life, in cherishing our loved ones, in reveling the fact of our breathing and beating hearts, the magnificence of the Super Bloom adorning our hillsides, and the idea that we, right now, have the luxury of being alive in the world. So that is my renewed perspective. I am grateful that Ken is now home and recovering.