A sparkling summer morning at the beach, the early haze is just burning off, the sun peeking out seductively through the clouds. We can’t resist its appeal, my love and I, and head out for an early run along the coastline. The tide is just beginning to come in, the water inching towards our feet, then playfully drawing back into the foam. The sand gently cushions our footfalls as we make our way, the gentle rhythm of the waves providing a soothing sound track.
And just as the ocean ebbs and flows, the memories come flooding back, the images suffusing me, then fading away like so many sepia toned photographs in a family scrapbook. So many runs, so many places, so many times. Together and alone, with our kids or by ourselves, at home or far away. Shorelines and mountain trails, back roads and city streets, our lives could be mapped along so many byways, measured out in so many footsteps along the way.
They could be tracked by our pace, traced by our progression, starting and finishing at the same place, but not always at the same time. Running together, and running apart, one sometimes taking the lead and the other following, one surging ahead while one lags behind to keep watch. One speeding on as another slows, perhaps to gather a few perfectly formed seashells on the shore, or to admire yet another sand castle or fort on the beach, or to marvel as a precious little one takes her first tentative steps into the water.
The conversation keeps pace, talking, really talking, and listening, really listening, as the steps quicken, one following after the other. The distance spools out ahead of us and the miles accrue, as we wrestle with the knotty issues of love and life, of ourselves, of our kids and grandkids, of our late parents, of dear friends, of the state of our world, and of life’s innate uncertainty and all its vicissitudes. And sometimes, it is the silence that keeps us going, the time to be together, and apart, to think, to reflect, to just be.
And so the waves continue to move toward the shore as we continue to put one foot in front of the other, not always knowing our way but having faith that we will find it. And that the love that brought us together, that keeps us together, will endure for as many days as we are given to just keep running, after all these years.