Ozette Triangle Loop
I smelled it before I heard it, and I heard it before I saw it.
Still miles from the water and beneath a canopy of trees, the scent reached me first: salt, and the sharp brine of seaweed. Then came the far-off white noise, faint at first but, as I grew closer, steadily separating into a rhythmic ebb and flow, water against rock. I continued my long descent of the trail and the forest began to thin – light, light, and finally, there it was. Open sky and the Pacific Ocean.
The beach was rocky, low tide revealing an endless expanse of tidepools. I was lucky; I hadn’t thought to check the tide, but the three miles I was now set to hike south along the shore would be made much easier with the waves far away. Stepping carefully, I began to pick my way down the beach, now spotting the long, tangled braids of bull kelp I’d been able to smell an hour ago.
Seaweed tastes the way it smells, doesn’t it? Back when I lived in Denver, I had a regular spot for most first dates: a Japanese restaurant near Commons Park where I would order a seaweed salad and a glass of Pinot Grigio. There were a lot of dates in those days, a lot of seaweed salads and many glasses of wine. But it’s been a long time since both drinking and dating – one, because when I drink I don’t always know when to stop, and two, it’s hard to date when you’re trying to have a baby.
I came so close. After 18 months and more tries than I can count on one hand, he was finally real. I had a picture of him. My friend Melissa held my hand and watched on a screen as the doctor transferred him into my womb – not the way I pictured getting pregnant, but hey, it worked. At least, it worked for a little while. In February, I got the call that he was there. In March, I got the call that he was not. I immediately booked the trip I am now on.
I would’ve been six months pregnant. Instead, I am standing on this beach.
A crab scurries past my foot and disappears beneath a large rock. I think of the stories on the news about hermit crabs mistaking trash for shells, making their home inside a plastic bottle cap or the metal base of a lightbulb, and my spirit howls – but I also understand. Who among us hasn’t sought refuge in a less than ideal place? This world offers imperfect options. We’re all just trying to live.
I find it to be a tricky balance: joyfully making the most of my life as it is, and dreaming for more. The two are engaged in a constant tug of war, gravity and undertow. I bargain with God, saying, “I’ll give you this if you give me that,” but it doesn’t work that way.
I let the waves pass over me – gratitude and grief, first one way then the other – and I wonder what will become of my life. Perhaps only time will tell. After all, the rocks on this beach are weathered – worn down, worn away. But they have also weathered – withstood the test of time. Like a contronym, life is often defined by opposites.
So here I am, standing at the edge of the world, both perfectly at peace and woefully incomplete, scanning the horizon for hope. But something tells me it’s a scent before a sound, and a sound before a sight.
So beautiful and heart wrenching and hopeful and true. Thank you, Annie, for bringing your voice and your real self back to “us”. Who you are and how you express yourself with words is a gift. Thank you. I’m still waiting for your book. ♥️
Wowza. Just sent you an email with my full comments!
♥️♥️♥️ love you and your life and your writing so. Always thankful when you share it with us.
I’m so sorry for your loss. For your boy in heaven. I have 3 angel babies, the latest lost at 16 weeks —well into the “safe period” all waiting for me in heaven. My arms will always ache for them. Thanks for sharing. We feel less alone in our suffering when we remember the others alongside us.
I’m sorry for the dashed hopes you’ve weathered—more than your fair share I’d say. But I am glad you’re back to sharing your essays. I hope writing this one was healing. I’m not sure what hope smells like, but I will it’s tendrils to reach you soon.
Wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing! Praying for His soothing peace to fill all of you, and applauding your great choice of places to heal and mourn.
Beautiful, Annie. So sorry for your loss and pain. Much love!
Wow wow wow. This is so rich and important and deeply visceral. First, your story. The way you sink down into the experience and take us with you. Next, the writing. You are masterful in translating your insides to the outside, Annie. It’s an honor to know you, know pieces of these hoped for and life changing moments behind the scenes, and it’s incredible to witness your resilience and grit paired with a softening as you tell of what it costs to live this way. I love you.
You are yourself so beautiful and unique but you also carry your honesty and depth the way your wonderful dad does. I’m so sorry for the short journey you had with your precious son. However long he was with you it was still meant to be, your still a mom. I LOVE YOU HEART AND WRITINGS.
Wow, such beauty and such pain. What do we make of it all? Thanks for your words and vulnerability in sharing ❤️
Contronym- living in opposites. I understand this state. Thanks for writing
“But something tells me it’s a scent before a sound, and a sound before a sight.”
Yes. Poetic and true.❤️
So powerful and true. Deeply appreciate your sharing this, I’m so sad for your loss and will wait in hope with you–as we abide between the now and the not yet.
There are no words, Annie. As I hold my two month old baby, the most perfect soul I’ve ever known, my pain for your loss is ever more poignant that before. Than it ever could be. I hope so deeply for you to be happy. I think of you often and wish for your peace and pleasure. Till then, my friend, keep writing. 💔
Oh, Annie. I have always loved your words and your heart, the way you write with all of your senses. I cannot imagine this loss, but I can imagine the hope and the bargaining. My heart hurts for you. Prayer is hard for me these days, but asking for peace for you is not.