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Jewels by the Sea

by Jeffrey Snell  
5/11/2007 / Short Stories

Terry sipped his pop and gazed contentedly past his toes at the surf cascading in. Music from the waves massaged his thoughts, and he let his head drop back to the warm afternoon sand, missing his towel but not caring.

"Isn't this the best?"

His smile was reply enough for the lovely woman laying on his right, his wife and best
friend. Kim smiled back, rested on her elbows and watched their sons and daughter
jumping over the waves. The youngest, their auburn-haired daughter, lost her footing and
toppled into a big one. Her athletic brothers both offered her their hands, which she took,
and Kim smiled at them. It came to her now, during this surprise anniversary trip to her
favorite spot on the Pacific, with the golden sand, warming surf and grassy bluffs behind
them. More than any other effort they had undertaken together, she and her husband took part in something unbelievably profound in raising the kids. All other pursuits seemed to evaporate in comparison. In fact, right now she couldn't bring to mind a single one that mattered more. Emotional pride surged in her heart and she felt tears creeping up. They're so... beautiful.

"What's wrong, Babe?" Terry had glanced at Kim and noticed a tear beneath her sunglasses. "Headache again?" He reached and caressed her forearm as a group of seagulls flew above them, their shadows lingering over Kim.

She shook her head. "No, just so proud of them. God really answered us, didn't He?"

Terry smiled toward their oldest son, Dan. "I always knew...."

"...'he'd be no ordinary child.' Yes, dear, you'll still be telling me that in another twenty-one years." She sighed humorously, still smiling. "They're all extraordinary. Just watching them now...." Her eyes returned to the water.

Terry let a few seconds pass. "I love you. And yes, God answered us, but He answered me first. With you. Honey?" He removed his sunglasses and stared at Kim. He knew what was coming, saw the slight quiver in her shoulders, her brow furrowed and jaw
tightening. She slowly pulled her knees to her stomach, bowed her head and uttered an abrupt moan.

Terry sat up. "Oh, Babe. Hang on, hang on. It's gonna be okay."

The migraines had begun only one month before, shortly after starting therapy, but their intensity increased with each onset. Initially, they hit once or twice a week, but this was the second time today. Terry grabbed their purple canvas bag and searched for her prescription. Finding it, he shook out two small round tablets and passed them and a water bottle into her trembling hands.

He took her hand. "Just another minute or two maybe. Just hang on. I'm here." She grasped his hand tightly, rocking and waiting with all her strength. Her other hand pressed against her forehead in a fist. She held to her doctor's words during their visit two weeks earlier. Remember, the headaches are the main side effect. You can expect significant pain, but it should only last a few minutes.

"Is Mom okay?" Dan's voice at their feet shocked them both a little. All three of them
had noticed something wrong and Dan led the charge up from the water. Terry tried to grin reassuringly at their concerned expressions. He found he could not hold the grin, but Dan was the only one looking at him, his own face darkening.

"She'll be okay, guys. It's just another headache, and she took some medicine." It was true; he could see her muscles beginning to relax now, and her legs straightened somewhat. She exhaled as if she were forcing the pain out with her lungs and swallowed more water.

"Want me to rub your head, Mom?" Kevin offered, his voice just beginning to crack
with adolescence. His words might have caused her to burst into tears, but the word "mom" came out with such a loud squeak, it made her and everyone else giggle.

"It's alright," she started, then paused to catch her breath. "I'm alright you guys. It's better now." She looked up at them, took Marie's hand and pulled her eleven-year-old into her lap. Marie's tears reminded her why this mattered; why she was going down this path, bringing the pain on herself. Every moment like this was golden; a precious jewel to be savored and spent carefully with the ones who filled her heart. She and Terry had agreed--there was never any question for either of them--any action they could take, any therapy she could undergo to add more of these moments they would pursue without hesitation.

"I love you all so much. And I'm really okay, alright?" Kim breathed deeply and stood Marie up. "Now, you three go back down and dive in," she winked at them and glanced at Terry with a grin, "and Dad and I will be down to see who still remembers how to body surf!"

They smiled a little, all but Dan. He stared at Terry dubiously, torn between sonhood and
manhood as all sixteen-year-old boys are. He looked so much the man already, but Terry recalled the little boy like it was just a day or two past. He sensed the conflict in his son and almost broke down, his own fear and uncertainty lurking. But he set his jaw, willing
his son to understand through his eyes, and nodded. Honor her, Dan. Show them how.

Dan hesitated, then shouted, "Come on guys, we'll beat 'em to the good waves!" He led the kids dashing back into the water sending a dozen seagulls scrambling for the air. Their squawking call echoed against the bluffs and struck Terry as a portent, a forecast of some coming storm.

Kim touched his arm and he turned. "I don't know how many more like that I can take.
It hurts so bad, all through me. I just...." She shivered, her eyes tired. "It's getting worse, Terry. And the kids see what's happening."

He took her hand and kissed it gently, then wrapped his arms around her tightly. "I know." She was so beautiful. His breath caught in his throat, and he simply held her, tears coming freely now. "One day at a time, my love. I'm here."

As his siblings splashed and yelled with delight amidst the waves--Mom's incident temporarily forgotten--Dan gazed up the sand at his parents' embrace. After a few seconds, he joined his brother and sister.

Writing since 2000, I live in the Seattle area with my wife and three children. My passion is to draw others to a more intimate knowledge & love of Jesus through fiction & non-fiction. To contact me, you may send an IM from my FW profile page or visit my website below.

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