Beach day

I’ve been trying to think of a simile to explain what my weekend was like. The best I’ve been able to come up with is that it was like a beautiful orchestral piece, but with one obvious piece of the melody completely missing sometimes. Beautiful, gorgeous harmonies! And then a strange silence where a violin should have been playing.

One of my coworkers, Christina, didn’t come to work on Thursday. Her husband found her Wednesday night; she was completely unresponsive so he took her to the hospital, where they put her in the ICU. Friday morning at work, we hadn’t heard anything new. I went home around noon. I got a call around 8:00 Saturday morning from Angela, the woman who’s taken over the admin duties, letting me know that Christina had passed away Friday afternoon. She never regained consciousness and the doctors still aren’t sure what happened or why.

She just joined my department a couple months ago. She moved here from Hawai’i. She leaves behind her husband and two little girls (4 and 11 years old).

I didn’t know her very well, but she was always kind and friendly, searching out answers for the way that we did things and how we could do things better. She had hair almost exactly like mine, except dark brown, and she played with it the same way that I play with my hair sometimes. And she’d always step just a little bit closer into a person’s personal bubble than expected. She was joyful. And she was patient. And she’s left an aching hole in the world where she’s supposed to be standing.

And that ache has hovered at the edges of my emotions since then.

Saturday morning, Jessi and Julie came over for French toast brunch. Then Justin and I called Chloe to wish her a happy birthday. And then we packed up our car and Jessi’s car and set off to Hunting Island for the afternoon. We played in the water, sat on the beach and read, and walked up and down the beach. We grilled dinner along the shoreline – which was a little complicated because we forgot a lighter to start the coals and tongs to flip the food and the pitas to hold the turkey burgers, but it all worked out in the end. And as the sun set, we packed it all up and went to the drive-in. Jessi drove home instead of staying for the movie and we mostly missed the first movie, but it was a terrible movie and we were happy to have missed most of it. The second movie was Pacific Rim, meaning AWESOME.

But it was a beautiful day to be at the beach. The sky was clear. The water was warm and free of jellyfish. Wind from the water kept the bugs away. We played bocce while waiting for the food to cook, once we finally got the coals going. We threatened each other with water guns filled with ice water from the cooler. At the drive-in, when the batteries died in the radio, we set up in the car, watching the movie with my feet hanging out the open window. And then we dropped Julie off at her house because she was entirely too tired to safely drive herself home.

Time spent with friends and family, having fun and enjoying each other’s company, just cannot be beat.

Sunday, we hobbled around, doing laundry and tidying the house and dealing with bug bites and aching muscles, but it was still *so* worth it.

Today at work, we dealt with Christina’s passing. A grief counselor came in for a staff meeting and was available for anyone to talk with. I embarrassed myself by crying in front of the whole team. Her mother and husband came in to clear her belongings from her desk. And at the end of the day, a notification went up on the company intranet regarding her passing, so now other people in the company are also aware of what’s going on in our department. That makes it easier and harder, because people ask what happened and it’s hard to talk about, but they also understand why we’re having a rough day.

So I’m glad that I had a shiny, happy Saturday afternoon to fall into instead of having nothing but the grief to dwell on.

How about some pictures to distract from the sad?

Jessi, the sun worshiper.
The rest of us pale-skinned geeks stayed in the shade from the palm tree. And umbrellas. And sunscreen.
See those little heads out in the water? That’s Justin and Julie playing on boogie boards. You will need to click on the photo in order to have a chance at seeing them.
The point of this picture is to look at how far away the water is from my toes, okay? Remember that for later.
I think the child in the center of this photo was trying to get the gulls to take him home.
Those pale beauties!
Justin needs a haircut.
We set up our picnic at the table directly behind our beach site. You can see it in a previous photo.
Our fantastic, tiny little charcoal grill. First, we had to borrow a lighter from someone on the beach because we forgot to bring one. And then the wind kept trying to blow out the coals. It took a ridiculous amount of effort to get this going. But it was worth the effort. Delicious food!
This right here? BEST PART OF THE PICNIC. And even better the day after.
Unfortunately, this container was not as water-tight as we’d hoped and the turkey burgers got completely waterlogged. We still grilled them, obviously. They were really tough, not tender at all, and we’re not sure if that’s because of the water or what it was. Also, they were supposed to be eaten in pita with Tzatziki sauce. We remembered the sauce (delicious!) but forgot the pitas.
Playing bocce while waiting for everything to cook. Playing on the beach is tricky because everything slopes toward the water!
Meanwhile, sunset through the trees is beautiful!
OK, so remember how far away the water was from my toes in the afternoon? Those lines in the sand at the left-hand edge of this photo are from the feet of our chairs. The water would have been UNDER my feet at this point! I wish I’d remembered to take the photo when the chairs were still up.


Menu for the picnic:

Menu set and prepared by Justin, with help from Julie, the night before, and then grilled by me.

Grilled corn
soaked in ice water all afternoon and then grilled in the husks over hot coals for 25 minutes, turned 3 times, with a covering of feta cheese mixed with sour cream.

Grilled Middle Eastern Turkey Burgers with Yogurt Sauce
(Tzatziki Sauce)

Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad

Potato chips with spinach dip

 Unfortunately, we forgot the s’mores, but we were REALLY full by the end, anyway!