Accompanied in the Beach


I tossed the frisbee to my Dad, and he ran to grab it with a jump. My father is forty-nine years old, but I was amazed at how well he hustled. Although there was occasionally a cold breeze, the sun was set high in the sky, striking nicely down on my shoulders. It was a perfect afternoon to spend with someone who you really love. We sat down for a break, my Dad grabbed his non-alcoholic beer, and I grabbed an energy drink. Usually, when we went to the beach, the cooler was always filled with alcoholic beverages, but this time it was different.

My Dad leaned forward and said, “Remember when you broke a bone when you were twelve, and you were afraid that we wouldn’t make it to the hospital in time because you thought it was a life-or-death situation?”

“How could I forget?” I chuckled. 

“Well, is there something you are grateful for regarding the anecdote?” He said it in a severe tone of voice with a rugged look in his brown eyes that made me nervous to answer.  

 “Uh, that it wasn’t a life or death situation and I live to tell the tale?” I said. 

In my opinion, it was an odd question, so I responded with an odd answer. Suddenly, the only clouds in the sky covered the sun. We both stood up from the sand and picked up the insulated drink carrier and the frisbee to return home. In the morning, we swore that if the clouds covered the sun, we would head back because we have a saying, “coincidences are not accidents.”

As we strolled back towards the boardwalk, my Dad began to speak again. 

“Jake,” he said, “I want you to remember that after your arm was cast, your stepmom, your sister, and even your best friend Ronnie went to check on you because they love you.” 

“I know,” I said. 

He looked at me with a grin on his face and said, “Are you sure?” 

Now, I was doubting myself for a few minutes. Although my stepmom, sister, and Ronnie came to see me, I only sought my Dad’s presence in the hospital. I would call him every day to complain about my most minor pain during my recovery. Then, he would bring me chocolate cake when I asked him after he came back from work. I loved hanging out with my Dad, and I still do.

“Why would I not love my family?” I said. 

Even though I am the same height as my Dad, I feel small when talking to him. He looked at me with a sad look in his eyes and started talking with the warmest voice, like talking to the sun. 

“I’m sure you love your family, but I don’t want you to take them for granted because they are not your parents.” 

“What do you mean?” I said, even though I knew what he meant. 

I remember when my Dad met Maria in my last year of therapy after my mom’s car crash. He loved her, and I loved her as well. However, growing up as the youngest and only boy made me want to impress my Dad with the smallest accomplishments. With only my Dad as my motivation fuel, the other individuals became small ants in my life.

“I mean that if you make more room for people in your heart, then you will never feel alone. Believe me, it was the only way I was able to move on from your mom’s death and I believe you can do it too.” He said firmly.

We finally reached the boardwalk, and the sun started to shine through the clouds again. I didn’t remember my Dad being as wise as Socrates, but I guess I hadn’t spent enough time with him ever since I went to college. 

He looked at me, and I tried to look at him back, but the sun on top of his head made it hard for me to look at his face without going blind. He resembled an angel with a halo of sunlight just bouncing off the top of his head. He started to talk again, but the sound that came out of his mouth was like thin air going in and out of my ear. The last thing I heard before the light of a ceiling beamed into my eyes, and I saw a lady in scrubs was a distorted sentence, “We…are…all…here…for…you….” 

Suddenly agitation and confusion hit my entire body. I had the urge to move my legs and arms, but I felt weak as a jellyfish. Twenty minutes later, I started to gain consciousness when my stepmom and older sister stood beside a doctor, asking questions.

The doctor said, “It’s been eight months Ms. Rodriguez, I am not sure if he’s suffering brain damage from the coma, so we need to do some blood work to check his cholesterol levels and….” 

I blacked out again. 

Three weeks passed, and I was recovering from the alcohol poisoning found in my blood. Maria enters the room with her warm smile, wearing a flower-patterned yellow shirt and holding a small antique-looking box.

“Hey, how are you feeling today?” 

“Better than yesterday, but I have to say the food here sucks,” I said. 

“I’m sure of that Jake,” she smiled. “I know you said you don’t want any more counseling but I think it will help you in your process of recovery.”

I’ve been in therapy for almost all my life, so returning to this means that I will never be able to escape the trauma that kept building on. 

She nervously tapped the box she was holding and continued. “I have something that your Dad left you before he died.” 

I looked at her hand holding the box and was intrigued by what it had inside. So I opened the box with a single hand and found a watch with a note next to it that said, “accidents are not coincidences.” 

I put the note aside and attached the silver watch around my skinny wrist. I quickly hugged my stepmom and squinted my eyes so hard I could remember the day of my Dad’s funeral when I introduced myself to the crowd, “Hello I am Jackson Miller, now an orphan, but thanks to my Dad, I’ve learned to love and appreciate those who have cared for me.”