I recently allowed myself one day to complain about my disability and the things that bother me about it. I wrote this story:
After I published that, I regretted not including the loss of the ability to walk on the beach and swim in the ocean. I gave a bit of consideration to adding it to the already published story. Then I realized that no, the ocean deserves its own piece. The loss is too big to be simply added to a list.
I enjoyed going to the beach since I was a young child. There are many great shore towns in New Jersey where I grew up. I had an aunt who had a house in Montauk at the far eastern end of Long Island where we spent time as kids.
I loved to simply walk in the sand. It was easy to cover great distances and take in the sights. The sand was also an ideal surface for practicing my gymnastic moves because it is soft.
Like many young girls, I worshipped the sun. It felt divine to soak it up until I felt like I was burning, then run into the water to cool down. I learned how to ride the waves back to shore. I didn’t mind being caught unawares by a big wave and pulled under the water and tumbled around until I didn’t know which way was up. I loved the ocean. I had a great bikini body until I was much older and had children.
I mostly swam in the Atlantic Ocean as a kid. I went in the Pacific Ocean for the first time in Hawaii when I was 18. I had never seen such beautiful beaches or swum in sea water that was 80 degrees. The beach in Hawaii was definitely different than the Jersey Shore!
I went to Jamaica for my honeymoon which brought me into the Caribbean Sea for the first time. I had never seen water that shade of blue before.
I traveled to tropical islands over the next ten years including St. Maarten, the Bahamas, Bonaire, and back to Jamaica with my kids later on.
I loved the feel of warm sand on my bare feet. I loved making footprints in the sand. I loved the salty taste of the water. I loved the way the salty water styled my naturally curly hair into perfect curls as it dried in the ocean breeze.
My joy at the beach came to a sudden end in 1999 when a stroke left me with a pronounced limp due to a drop foot.
I spent a few days at the Jersey Shore at a friend’s house with my family after I had the stroke. It was hard to have a good time because of the magnitude of the struggle to simply get my rear end into a chair on the beach. I sat and watched my friends do everything I used to love doing. I was mostly miserable. In a strange fashion, my husband was angry that I was in some warped way ruining his vacation.
I traveled to Africa after I became disabled with my family. With a lot of planning, help and special equipment, I was able to go in the Indian Ocean. I floated in a buoyant wheelchair. The water was warm and a beautiful shade of blue. I never imagined I would be in the Indian Ocean, especially after having a stroke!
When we visited the Riviera Maya in Mexico as a family, I was not able to go in the ocean. There weren’t any floating wheelchairs available there. I simply enjoyed looking at the turquoise water and feeling the warm sun. I did go in the pools, but that is just not the same.
Losing the ability to carelessly frolic on the beach and in the ocean is not just another item on my list of complaints about my disability. It stands alone as a spectacularly collossal loss.
Thank you for reading:)