How many times have we come here to our Innisfil Beach? I remember hovering over you as you toddled through the waves, worrying about the sharp shells against your soft feet, your fingers clinging to mine. Today, you swim blithely, far, far out. I hold up my empty hand when I see you stand on the sand bar, shielding your eyes from the late afternoon glare as you look back at me.
Early this spring, excavators reshaped this shoreline; the grass and rocks moved aside to create wider sandy beaches. When you were little, you would have loved to watch the construction, to see the “Mighty Machines” at work. We spent hours back then, going for walks around our neighbourhood, watching the diggers scoop out basements from the empty fields. When we drove out a few months ago to see the construction, you barely looked up from your iPod. I watched the transformation, alone.
At the time, I thought about how we had read that Lake Simcoe is a remnant of prehistoric Lake Algonquin; the ice dam had melted and the water levels went down, leaving us our lake. How long had it taken for this shoreline to emerge? The construction rumbled forward, indifferent. By the summer rush, the sandy beaches would be wide and welcoming to tourists.
Now, the first day of summer, I watch you swim back to shore, jubilant. You shake the cold water off, leaving your hair furled in the back. You throw a ball with your little brother, who chuckles in his way. He is the baby of the family, a replica of your smaller self. Along the wet sand, you write with a stick, I WAS HERE. A wave tumbles in, swipes away some of your letters. You laugh at the game the water plays, and write your words again.
In a few more days, you will board the plane for France. You have been waiting, eagerly, since you heard of the Summer Exchange program at school months ago. “I should go to France,” you had announced, all confidence.
“Yes,” my answer surprised and thrilled you. How could I say no? You are young, only thirteen, but you will learn so much from a month away from home in Bordeaux.
Now, at my feet in the sand, scribbling with a stick, you seem so small. Am I hurrying you to grow? Carving at you in a rush? Or is it just time for certain waters to recede? Watching you, I see a strong, smart, big boy, with a bright quirky smile; at the same time, I see the baby I cherished so, so much. The waves agree, shifting your message. I WAS HE.