It's funny - When I look back on my life, only a few perfect moments stand out. Yet, pain and regret are a low hanging fruit, never far from reach. I wonder if it's always been that way.
My family has inevitably been described as reclusive. It was just after the school year came to a close for summer that my wife, Katie, suggested we do something special. I could see the boredom of rural existence in the dark under her eyes. She went on to say that a vacation would be good for the kids, and that everyone's schedule was open now that the children weren't busy. I was about to bring up a project at work, but sensed Katie's tenseness, and ultimately agreed.
It's the what ifs that never wander too far from thought. When the lights are off, and your bed feels like a slab of cold rock, and your mind wont leave you the fuck alone. Running over the same ground so many times. And all you keep hoping for is something good, something to wash it all away.
If you've never seen Indonesia in the summer months, it's absolutely breath taking. And not to mention you could retire there for a few hundred bucks. Katie, I, and our two girls went to an amazing dinner the second night on vacation. The restaurant was pressed against the ocean on a stretch of endless beach. The place only sat a few dozen people, which made it feel even more personal. I remember this moment vividly - the oily shine of a fresh sunburn on my girl's brows and cheeks. The restaurant was more of a pavilion really, with wooden posts and a straw roof. I drank a few beers to calm my nerves, fretting over the chance of the roof catching with all the small fire places around. I could see the server headed our way, so I made a quick bee line for the bathroom to relieve some of those beverages.
Time is the best healer they say. I say that time haunts, and mocks, and remains. It's the only thing that lasts forever. It's the only thing to remind you of everything that's over, and behind you. And at times, all I want it to do is stop.
I can tell you that sanitation is not one of Indonesia's most revered qualities. Honestly, there are very few bathrooms to even judge. The restaurant luckily had an outhouse located up the beach. I only took a few steps outside before realizing how dark it had become. Earlier that day a tour guide told me how bright the night stars would be - unfortunately clouds were blocking their rays. A hundred or so feet in front of me sat a small slouching hut on top of a rolling knoll. It wasn't until I open its door and the smell of five day old shit pierced my nose, that I decided to relieve myself against it, rather than in it. My hands were still re-buttoning my pants when I heard the noises.
Sharing in something always compounds the feeling. My children being born was all the better because I shared in it with my wife. And I believe the same is true of sharing sorrow. Alone, sorrow hurts, but when it's shared... That's when it becomes terribly real. That's when the music stops and the lights turn on and you realize the play is over.
My head snapped up because I felt and heard thunder. And a moment later I heard the screams. Blood curdling terror poured out from the beach, and the thunder continued. Only I felt it all in my feet, and I could see the beach blackening. And in that instant I knew that the music had stopped. I knew even before the wall of water came rushing toward me. Before the bodies began piling up at the base of the knoll, that I was now sprinting from. Before I climbed to higher ground, the water never far behind. Before they found my daughter's body, and forgot about her sister and mom.