I remembered going to the beach with her. It was always the beach. As we would approach the ocean, my mother would roll down the windows, and the salt air would fill the car and brush my face, whipping my hair in every direction. I would yearn for the sand, the breeze, the sound of the water lapping against the shore.
That sound that would soothe me to sleep on the beach as my mother would tuck the wisps of hair around my ears. She would lie next to me and hum a song and run her fingers along my cheeks and over my eyelashes. I don’t remember which song, but the tune would be in harmony with the lap, lap, lap of the waves.
Then she would wrap me in the blanket and carry me back to the car, whispering in my ears. “I love you, little one.” I remember nuzzling my face into the bare spot under her chin, feeling her smooth, warm skin against my cheek, breathing in her scent. Coconut, salt, and sea air. My mother was made of the ocean.
I always imagined that my mother met my father at the beach. Maybe she was lying in the sand, humming a tune, when he tripped over her. Maybe he kneeled down and tried to brush the sand he kicked onto her legs back to the beach. Maybe he reached for her hand to pull her up. And maybe she laughed and brushed her hand against his arm. Maybe she knew she was falling in love. Maybe they walked together along the beach in the moonlight.
And maybe my father didn’t know what he was doing. Maybe he just wanted my mother without understanding the consequences. Maybe he didn’t care about them. Maybe he was thumbing his nose at them on purpose. Maybe he was baiting them to become what he had always suspected. Maybe he was asking them to intervene.
I can imagine wanting to be rescued from falling in love. From falling.
Maybe he didn’t realize what that would mean for me. Maybe he didn’t know that there would be a me. Maybe he didn’t care.
Every maybe was another rock on my chest. I would never know. I would never understand why he reached for her hand.