The Keeper of Memories

The waves were foaming up and spilling over the shore. She took refuge at the edge of a rock that jutted out over the rowdy lake like a terrace. It wasn’t a sunny day. The clouds had a milky look to them. The sun was only visible in the way that it dripped light down, mixing with the greyness of the sky. She was listening to the gentle caress of a violin in her headphones.

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On the shore, there was a petrified log. It was smooth and water-logged as though it had been massaged again and again by the touch of the tide. A woman was approaching it, she was in her 60’s, with locks of salt and pepper hair tussled and tossed into a low bun. She was wrapped in a warm earthy shawl and grasping the hand of a tiny little boy.

She could only assume this woman had decided to take her grandson to the beach that day. Despite the sky crowded with heavy clouds, she had probably slipped on his palm-sized shoes and corduroy hat. She had fit his impatient arms into a puffy forest green vest and buttoned him up. She had made her way along the rugged boardwalk, monitoring his steps to prevent a fall. And she had watched him pick up rounded stones and toss them at the lake’s edge.

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She took her gentle hands into his tiny ones, they wrapped around her finger, as she hoisted him onto the eroding wreckage of the log. His face was clear, even from where she sat. He was radiating and his grandmother’s expression mirrored his, with creases that sketched a lifetime of expressions.

She realized then, this could be just another moment in a story. A moment that would hardly make it into their memory banks. The boy, too young to recollect the details of his grandmother’s weathered hands supporting his, or the way the lake smelled and sounded as it carved away at the beach. His grandmother would pass before he reached her own age. He would share the same awe when he looked at his grandchildren.

In every moment of fear, there was an equally powerful moment of love happening right there on that beach. The moments she drenched with attention magnified, like the sun through a slanted glass. As her attention fixated on this pair, her chest began to open the same way the light broke through the clouds – with radiance and warmth.

She decided that she would keep this memory. If the boy grew old and had no recollection of that sand, that crinkled smile, or those furious waves, she would. If the grandmother forgot about that sodden log, those unsure fingers, or that creaky boardwalk, she would.

She held their love in her own heart until it was almost too much to bear. She took a smooth stone from the beach that was kissed with the current and tucked it into her pocket as a reminder of the day at the beach when she realized the world is full of small moments that will break open your heart if you let them.