As my family gears up for our annual pilgrimage to the beach, I am frightened to see these stories about the shark attacks occurring off of the Carolina coast. The two that occurred on Sunday are only 30 miles south of our little slice of heaven, Kure Beach. I am not sure what I will do, but I do know that I detest the fearful feeling I will have now when approaching the water.
As you may remember, I grew up going to my grandparent’s house in the summers, and they happened to live at the beach. My cousin, brother, and I were little water babies from the get-go. We spent our days swimming, playing, fishing and fussing when we had to put actual clothes on, seeing as we lived in our swimsuits. We were as brown as little berries, our hair salt- and sun-streaked, Grandma always herding us together so she could swipe more sunscreen before we were off running again. They were halcyon days, ones that I wish I could return too. I never, ever worried about what was in the water. From the beginning, we had been taught to respect the ocean. Our fathers worked on the water, on trawlers while we were all young. They knew the power of the ocean and taught us from a young age how uncertain it could be;You always have to have your guard up while enjoying its beauty.
I never worried about a shark – that’s for sure. It saddens me that I will be diligently scanning the horizon for dorsal fins while my children are playing in the water. I want them to love and respect the water, but not to fear the water. The beach is my happy place, my place of peace, my holder of memories. It has been one year today since Grandma passed from this world, and not a day goes by that I do not think of her. Being at the ocean brings me closer to all of my childhood memories of her. I hate to have shark fear taking that away.
I am keeping my fingers crossed that there will be no more incidents involving shark attacks in the upcoming weeks. We will go to the beach and enjoy it is bounty with wonder and amazement as per usual. I will play with my children and walk up and down with my daughter as we collect shells. I will not let fear drive me away, but I will keep an eye constantly open and probably make them stay in the very shallow portion of the beach. My husband and I will be the ones that are most affected, because we love to swim out and float. I think Mommy will be staying close to shore and will probably demand that Daddy do the same.
May we all enjoy this summer, and the beach in all its powerful glory.