Skipping stones on Omaha Beach

I felt the wind flip through my hair, breathed in the fresh, salty air that I had oh so missed for the last 11 months and lost myself in the endless horizon, soothing melodies and meditative loneliness of the ocean.

Yesterday: my first time back to the ocean since May 2.

My first time back since the last time I was there. A day I nearly died.

I took the two stones out of my pocket, carefully selected among the multitude of rocks by the edge of the sand/grass dunes that make up the cliffs of Omaha Beach.

Yeah, D-Day. Normandie, le debarquement and all that good stuff.

Ironic that my first time back is on this beach. A beach where so many people had lost their lives. I wondered, how long did it take for all the remains to be washed away? A day? A week? Whatever it was, it surely doesn't do justice to the lives lost.

...I stretched my arm back, hunched down, carefully eyed the quickly rising tide and flung the rock across the water, watching it skitter and then fall.

1...2...3...4...before it was caught by a ripple, and then a wave.

And again...1, 2, 3, 4...5.

There's a certain harmony to skipping stones. A logic. A fluidity. A sense of contentment and achievement that seems so easily acquired compared to the intricate things one must do in real life to get those very same emotions. At least for me.

It was so nice to be back at the beach. Nice doesn't even sum up my emotions. I had so missed the sand, the water, the stones, the sounds, the waves, the birds...

I reached my hand out and inched it towards the rising water...a moving memorial to life and death. The patterns in the sand bespoke images of blood spreading down the sand...all too recent.

While the others in my group dared the wind and briskness of the beach for mere minutes, I tested out my well-worn shoes--holey and torn up after six months of intermittent travel. Water seeped in as I dashed across the sand, I longed for more time there so that I could take off my shoes and tempt the fates of frostbite yet again. I dashed about the sand patterns like a woman possessed by a new found freedom.

It was one of the cleanest beaches I have ever seen in my life. Testament, perhaps, to the power that death can have, even over litter. Damn litter bugs.

As I gazed up at the bunkers on the beach and the cliffs that led up and up to more former enemy positions I kept imagining the fear of those who had crawled, walked, run the very same steps I now so easily walk.

...I felt so very poetic (can you tell?), and I re-realized (for the hundreth time) that life isn't fair sometimes...for me the time on Omaha Beach gave me a peacefulness and wholeness, a certain perspective and retrospect to history and my last beach encounter.

For others, a different peacefulness, after they struggled for their lives. At least we could identify on that last one.

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