Manresa Beach: A Short Story

“I met him when we were both too young for each other near the shore at Manresa. He was handsome and strong and quiet. And although there were many vying for his attention, I knew, from early on, that we’d spend our lives together. The way he looked at me when he didn’t think I was looking at him told me everything I needed to know.

“After we committed to each other, like many men, he wasn’t able to keep his svelte shape. And as I had his children, neither did I. As a father, my partner honed his sense of humor. The children loved their father’s crazy antics and stories – and I really grew to appreciate the way he could diffuse a difficult situation by poking fun at himself and his goofy actions or expanding girth. 

“Over our many years together, we loved spending our time near the shore, especially eating the fresh seafood and people watching on the piers. It was our favorite place. My partner was a good provider to our small family – and while we had our fair share of difficulties, the good always seemed to outweigh the bad. 

“About a year ago, we lost our youngest to a freak fishing boat accident. Losing a grown child is impossible and no one is ever the same after the event. My mate took it harder than most and it seemed to age him aggressively. He lost his sense of adventure. He seldom laughed. 

“This morning, when he suggested a swim at the shore, I was delighted. He even made a strained joke about his extra weight that he’d been carrying. I mockingly agreed to his joke, too readily, hoping to resurrect his confidence. As we swam in the surf, I looked over at my still-handsome partner and made a mental note about how lucky we have been. 

“He died doing what he loved. I don’t think it was his heart, as they don’t come any larger or stronger than his. As his still-body was washed to the sand, I rushed to be at his side. I knew he was gone, but couldn’t help hoping he’d wake and make me laugh like he had done so many times over the years. I lay by his side on the quiet early morning beach until the enormity of his loss struck me. I couldn’t imagine what to do next, so I sang him the saddest songs I knew, hoping he’d hear me somehow and know how much I loved him.”

A few mornings ago, while walking on Manresa beach [south of Rio Del Mar Beach, Aptos CA], I came across an aged male sea lion and the female that loved him. She kept nudging his seven-foot long body hoping for him to revive. She wailed the saddest song – and growled when anyone approached. A number of us mere-humans stood a respectful distance away, sharing her obvious pain while wiping wind-swept tears from our eyes. 

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