A Shell in the Sand

Visiting my family on Cape Cod in January always seems to come at the right moment and I am blessed to have the opportunity to be able to go. I try and take a trip by myself even in the cold winter months when Cape Cod returns to its natural splendor, free of traffic jams and wondering tourists. The air feels different and there is a feeling of “home” that consumes me. Standing on the beach in 30-degree weather and staring out into the ocean feels very different, almost meditative. It gives me a sense of renewal.  I take a deep breath and try to remember these waters in the summer months, alive with family fun and beachcombers. I hear seagulls off in the distance, boat horns as they signal their arrival. 

I notice a seashell that once housed a small tenant, empty and cold now filled with sand and dried seaweed. He has moved on to a bigger home ready to take on the world in a different way. He has grown. The shell is like a mother and the creature is of a child. The shell becomes too small for him and he is ready to break free.

I look at my life as it is now as I grow older and I find myself feeling a sense of peace.  I used to think that I am not fulfilled unless I am contributing to society and working full time. But as our boys grew older, I found that the past few years were a pinnacle time for me to be present more in their lives as many questions arise and new challenges are presented to them everyday. Don't get me wrong, they ask their dad questions too and have a different relationship, but there's something to be said about boys and their mothers. There is a bond that is like no other. 

Mothers of boys only understand this; it's special and overwhelming. Even though they grow up and throw piercing teenage stares, they also develop a “leaning toward dad” phase, which is normal for their development. As my father would say, 

"They will come back, they always do." 

I remember watching my brother when he was younger; bring our mother a cup of coffee to my parent’s bedroom. He was so very careful so it wouldn't spill. He wouldn’t reappear for close to 15 minutes and I knew they had been having their morning chats. I was a teenage back then and I thought he was just trying to get on her good side. I am very close to my brother now, more than when he was a teenager, and as I grew older I realized they had an unbelievable bond that couldn’t be broken. It was their “thing” and I didn't understand it. When my mother passed away, it was the hardest moment in my life, my entire family's lives’. My brother told that story at her funeral and he, along with all of us, expressed a wave of unbelievable emotion. 

As I walked slowly off the beach, the sand crunched beneath my sneakers. The wind was whipping sand around as it stung my face. My shadow is following me and my mother is walking with me. She is a part of me, in my face, in my heart and she has taught me to be who I am. I am blessed to have boys with good hearts and gentle souls. I am grateful to have special “things” that we share as mother and sons. I know it won’t last forever. My shell has become too small for them. They are breaking free. 

Confident. 

I am at peace.


By Susan Grady