WITH THE SUN ON ITS EVENING WAY DOWN, you’d often find Rebecca out on the front porch. She had been dreaming of seeing the sun in a new place for a long time. She had much to be thankful for: two great kids, a loving husband, a good life. But it didn’t seem as fulfilling after (I’m-not-telling) years in the same place.
She had grown up here: raising children in the same place she had been raised, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It was for selfish reasons that she wanted to go, maybe just for a little while, far enough away to fulfill a long-held ambition.
She wanted to be near the water. She wanted to walk through soft sand, to replace the miles of farmland now surrounding her with an infinite ocean, stretching beyond the horizon.
She wanted warm water to wade in, relief from the sun never found in Midwestern Missouri. East, west, whatever. Just anywhere there’s blue sky and plenty of water.
People aren’t supposed to be mind readers. Those that claim to be never actually are, but family, well, they always surprise you. And surprise Rebecca they did. That day, the dream she saw in her mind finally came true. Her daughters whisked her off to the airport, heading first to St. Louis, then Miami, then a place she couldn’t quite pronounce.
Yet when she arrived, it was as if she had finally returned to her native land. The locals were kind, the mood relaxed, and drinks were never far from hand. Her husband and daughters had stayed behind, but she didn’t mind it. It was a chance for quality time with a person she had all but forgotten about during these years of motherhood and marriage: herself.
It was to be a week of bliss and contentment. A gift from her family for years of faithful service. A “just because” present, which made the whole thing even better.
Each day, she’d go for walks, exploring the tropical paradise she’d never expected to actually see firsthand. The beaches were beautiful, but often crowded with other tourists. She strayed from the beaten path one afternoon, eventually following the shore to where it curved into a deserted lagoon. In the distance, she saw a bit of white peeking up from the water between two wooden posts, which she first thought might be some type of bird.
When she came nearer, she was shocked to discover a hammock, half-submerged in the shimmering green water. It seemed to call out to her, and any concerns over whose it was or why it was there faded away. It was to be hers for the day. The water was warm as she neared it, rising about waist-deep by the time she reached the gently swaying bed. The water dripped from her feet and shins as she climbed up into the handwoven hammock bed. The hammock dipped gently as she lowered herself in, water cooling her back.
It was strange, but in that moment she felt a pang of regret. Not for being where she was, but for her family being where she wasn’t. She wanted very much to share this moment with them, to have them reclining alongside her, giggling, snoring, living without fear or anxiety.
“When I get home,” Rebecca declared to sun and sky, “I’m getting a hammock for the yard — no, make that hammocks.” Her smile reflected the sunlight as she swayed in the gentle ocean breeze.
Hammocks that inspired this story: