I scratch at my beard, taking a long sip of my coffee shortly after. Moisture fogs my glasses. A small but expected inconvenience.
Life is full of those.
Steaming mug in hand, I reach the end of the pier. Grey worn planks groan beneath my feet as I shift my weight to my good knee. Relief floods my body while the old boards express their own pain. At this point it’s a shared longing for the old days, much like my own longing for a bygone youth.
Like the wood, I myself am addled with time. Gnarled and brittle.
The years have not been kind to either of us.
My daily walk helped to stretch the sore muscles. I couldn’t remember a time when it wasn’t. The teeth-clattering cold helped to remind me, but I didn’t mind; not one bit. This was worth the effort.
In the distance white and dark grey peaks rose to the heavens. Below them, lapping against the old battered beams, was the bay. Peering out I saw that it wasn’t time yet.
Today I arrived early. I had more time to admire the view. I like this view. Somehow it’s calming. Peaceful.
The water gently splashes upon the submerged beams. It helps to distract my mind from the various gifts that time has given me over the years. Every ache was a testament to what led me here. To be able to stand here every morning.
I ache for the days that are over yet welcome what the new day brings me. My days are numbered, I know, but I’ve been at peace with it. The acceptance of my fate was sealed. I know not when my last walk will happen.
Each day is a gift.
It pushes me forward. Waking to a new day gives me a purpose to enjoy the time that I have left. After so many years I felt I had a purpose, a simple purpose that I had chased through my youthful years. To wake up and inhale the crisp air of one more day. One more day of seeing the sun rise.
I reflect on my life often, dipping my fingers into the past to touch the ghosts that resided there. They cannot see me but I can see them. Seeing the familiar faces brings bittersweet moments. Memories of my past reach into the now to brighten my mood.
I savor another sip of my steaming mug. Liquid heat chases the chill from my bones, a welcome reprieve. The heat of the morning brew is on its last leg but the flavor is still strong.
“Yep, this is the life.” My shoulders feel stiff as I breathe in the fresh air.
Years of working with nets and buoys have hardened my joints. I miss the smell of the ocean.
The ocean was an icy mistress who loved to rock the one piece of solid ground beneath your feet. Never did a vessel I sail sink beneath her waves nor did I lose a man. Our work had been hard, but coming back home to see the beauty waiting for me made the effort worth it. It had been worth it, as was my daily trip now was worth it. Seeing the face of my missing half soothed the burn of the salt in my eyes and the burns from the rope.
She was worth the struggle.
Her ghost speaks to me when the moon is high. Unlike the others, she can see me. I know what that means so I savor each breath of air, each sunrise, each cup of coffee, each little moment. Every moment is spent enjoying the small bits of everyday life.
My body it on its last legs, but I make sure to enjoy what I can. I try to channel the youthful person I once was; my body protesting every inch of the way.
A little pain is worth every effort. I live in the moment so it counts at least.
The heat of the mug is slipping, the fading warmth hardly there. In a sense of irony, it reminds me of myself fading with time as it chugs along. Like the heat in the mug, so too will I fade.
Part of the past. A ghost. A fading memory.
Thus is the way of life. The gaping yawn of the future is waiting. I am ready but I will enjoy each day until my last.
It’s worth it.
It was all worth it.
To my right I see a flicker in the corner of my eye, the flutter of fabric in the morning wind. I turn to gaze into the face that once welcomed me home. A smile rests on her lips. She doesn’t speak as she fades from my view.
Tears fill my eyes, my chest tightening with emotion. I can’t help but smile as a hurricane of feelings are tossed around inside. The damns break and bathe my frozen cheeks in salt. A feeling I haven’t felt before spreads through my body. Cold no longer grips my body as a warm heat replaces it. I swear I feel her embrace.
She’s calling me home. Tomorrow awaits a new adventure.
Clutching the mug in shaky hands, I turn back, the shore in my sights. My bad knee complains on the return trip to shore but I ignore it like always.
I whisper a quiet goodbye to the sea once I’m on solid ground. Gentle waves lap against the rocky shore of the small bay I call home. I cannot see beneath the waves but it’s alright, I’m familiar with the murky depths.
“Goodbye old friend. I enjoyed our visits.”
I hear no reply, as expected, but a gust of icy wind on my face is the only answer I need. With one last look, I turn towards the shore. I’m ready to enjoy all the little moments one more time. I’m ready to see the last sunset and the twinkling of the stars.
Long have I prepared for such a day. The journey was hard, but it was worth it.