Even a place as beautiful as St. Simons Island could feel dreary when I was all alone. My husband was working out of town, and I was left to take care of our 11-month-old son, Edward, by myself.
“Why don’t you come with me to Fernandina Beach?” Mom called to ask. “It’s never crowded in November. I’m going to do some early Christmas shopping in the area, and you two can frolic in the ocean.”
Why not? Maybe there’d be other kids to play with. But when Mom dropped us off the place was deserted.
“Looks like it’s just us,” I told Edward as I carried him across the warm sand. I put down a blanket, and Edward toddled toward the water, laughing when the tide licked at his toes. He pointed eagerly at the sparkling blue expanse in front of him. “All right,” I said, picking Edward up. “Let’s take a dip.”
Holding my baby securely, I waded out into the surf, careful not to venture in too deep. Edward was delighted with our little adventure and squirmed in my arms. I took another step into the ocean. The sand beneath my feet disappeared!
I dropped, flailing into the waves. I struggled to tread water and keep Edward’s head above the surface. We were caught in an undertow! Water pulled at us from all sides, creating a whirlpool-like hole that dragged us under. Edward was choking and coughing up water. My son was drowning!
I kicked my way to the surface again and again, but I was getting weaker. God, help us! I thought frantically. Hands grasped my arms from behind. The grip was strong but soft at the same time. What a man this must be, I thought.
The water was no match for him. He lifted Edward and me together, as if we were light as can be. But this is an odd way to carry us, I thought. He set us down gently back on our beach blanket.
I pushed myself up onto my elbows and shook the saltwater from my eyes. I turned to thank our rescuer—but there was no one there. Not a soul in sight. My son and I were all alone.
Edward, crying and spitting up saltwater, was lying safely on my stomach. I wrapped him in a towel. Just as I finished calming him, I spotted my mother’s car awaiting us past the dunes. Exhausted and relieved, I trudged up to it.
“Look what I found today!” Mom exclaimed before I could tell her what had happened. She opened a brown box. Nestled inside was a Dresden angel, cast in porcelain and coated in a cloud-white glaze. The angel’s wings were spread, hands clasped in prayer.
Despite being made of porcelain, those hands somehow looked gentle and soft, just like the hands that had swept us from the ocean. “What is it?” Mom said, suddenly noticing my distress.
“We had quite a scare,” I started. I grasped the figurine as Edward batted playfully at its wings. I felt the chill of the ocean melting away, warmed by a sun that was reflecting off the ivory glaze. Even if I sometimes felt lonely, I now knew I was never truly alone.
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