I saw a man at the beach. He was grey haired with weather-beaten skin — not handsome or plain, just a mix of ordinariness. He had finished taking in the warm Sunday afternoon sun and was packing up his things.
He took his swimming shorts off underneath his towel and replaced them with a pair of dark track suit pants and pulled on an old T-shirt to cover his hairless chest. Then he reached into his duffel bag and pulled out a silver bag.
It was a gift bag, the metallic swirls catching the lengthening rays of the afternoon sun. A matching tag, attached to the handle, fluttered in the gentle breeze.
He turned away from the water and faced the low scrub that bordered the beach. He tipped the gift bag on its side and a stream of ash poured on to the sand and into the bushes. When the bag was almost empty, he stopped and poured what was left into his hand.
Clutching his hands to his chest, one over the other, he walked down to the sea. He paused, looking out to the horizon, out over the blue water, as if he were yearning to go to a place he couldn’t yet reach. He bent down to the water and opened his hands — the ash falling into the crashing waves at his feet.
Maybe one day, sometime in the future, Duckfish will go to the beach on his own after I am gone. I hope he will pour my ashes into the ocean and know some part of me remains in the wildness of the surf and the coolness of the water.
I hope that man on the beach can feel the love of the person he lost continue to swirl around him through the song of the kookaburras, the smell of seaweed and the exquisite orange glow of a summer sunset.
Art: Albert Bierstadt ~ The Wave