Last daypublished: 2017-08-31
A three-year-old girl learns to swim in the pool. She is careful and her father patiently guides her. When she spots me, I praise her for her courage and she flips over onto her back and jolts into a swim. I watch her as her belly protrudes under her ribs – at that age the two seem one, belly and ribs – she is wearing a swimsuit with big blue flowers in 70s style on it. Her eyes are shut and her mouth wiggles in an excited pant while surrendering to the display she is giving me. She bumps her head against the side of the pool and then looks up for me, it takes a second for her to find her bearings. I applaud her and continue on my way to the beach.
There, two teenage girls splash around in the sea screeching for the mere sake of making noise. They have their fake RayBans, H&M bikinis and fluorescent acrylic nails. They remind me of foals. Their adolescent hollers annoy me at first as I had wanted to find a peaceful moment. Then I wonder: why does this bother me? Is it their unawareness of the complexities of a life to come, one that lay behind me?
Two elderly ladies walk by, both wearing sleeveless tie-and-die dresses. One is in blues with pink circles, the other in orange with purple circles. One of them must have bought it first, I wonder which one. It’s hard to tell, they are so alike. Two white-haired men tail after them, both crooked. The women help each other out of their dresses and hold hands as they wobble their old bones into the sea. It looks as if they have been cut out of the same piece of clay.
I dive into the sea. The last dive, on this last day. I turn onto my back, the way the little girl did, and allow myself to simply float with my ears tucked away into the sea. Livelihood is blocked out as I listen to the sounds of sand crackling beneath me, hidden hermit crabs nibbling at stones, my heart beat.
I have had many last days in the sea and for fear of not fully absorbing the moment, I always tell myself I will return. Because the sea is there and everywhere to return to.
A friend passed away earlier this year. Like me, she loved swimming in the sea connecting the Caribbean islands we were both born on. Did she realise the last swim she had in it was her last?
I look up to the sky as I always do when I think of her. She must be up there somewhere. I wish she was down here swimming, one last time.