Cary Anne Fitzgerald
PDHP Parent/Community Outreach Coordinator
One last feel of the sea spray and the mix of the hot sun on my skin. Through the rush of waves, I can hear my uncle call, “Time to go!” One last victorious jump and I barrel out alongside my cousins to the embrace of soft, sun-warmed terry towels wrapped around us by our mothers. One last look at the rolling waves before we retreat to the car. My father heaves his coveted and heavy stainless-steel jug, still sloshing the remnants of whatever sugary, powdery drink mix us kids requested for this week’s jaunt. All the adults are laden down with all the necessary supplies to assist in the creation of yet another perfect day at the beach. I think they must be weary from all this work but instead a quiet contentedness fills the car as Van Morrison fittingly croons, “…smell the sea and feel the sky…” One last taste of salt water on my lips before I lean my head against my balled-up towel and close my eyes, sealing all this day into my memory.
One more touch of the grittiness of the hot sand slipping through my fingers as I lay out on my towel, drowsy from the day of sun and surf, the hearty laughter of my friends encircles me.
One more look at the way the sun sparkles on the calm bay as my daughter sits crisscross-applesauce right at the shoreline, the water lapping up gently, wet sand cupped in her hand, eyes squinting under the sunshine. One more song stirs in the background, “…let your soul and spirit fly…”.
Our senses are closely linked to our memories. Can we use them to bring us back to those times we felt content, safe, happy? Can we recreate similar experiences for our children to retrieve from the recesses of their minds when they need the reassurance of better times? The beach is always my happy place, no matter the season in fact; a picture alone can reset my calm. Shannon Pearce, PDHP Counselor for Saint Sebastian in Woodside and Our Lady in Ozone Park, shares that affinity and reminded our staff last week the grounding that being in or around nature can bring us. Maybe the beach isn’t your thing. Take a walk, open a window wide, feel the breeze, note the scene. What do you see, hear, feel, taste, smell? Not for you? That’s ok…take a breath, smile. Now, ask the same questions of your children. You just gave them a memory; you just gave them their calm.