Memories Unearthed by Dorian…

She was young, the same delicate age as my vulnerable grandson is now. Full of pip, but spindly arms and legs, no bigger than a minute. All she’d ever known was the lapping of the Gulf, innocent of actual waves. Even so, had she grown up with the Atlantic, it wouldn’t have mattered.

A riptide is a riptide.

We were exploring our new state with our new dad. He’d taken us to the mountains and now we were at the beaches he loved. We were enchanted with the wilds of the Outer Banks. A real beach, a real ocean. True joy.

How quickly a frolic becomes a fright.

The riptide caught baby Bettie. It hauled her away from those she loved.

Nowadays, signs are posted in the sand. They calmly instruct: do not fight the riptide. Do not swim toward shore. Swim horizontal to the beach—a cheerful cartoon swimmer smilingly parallels the shore. The signs assure: gradually, the riptide will peter out. You will be safe.

Not back then. There was no warning. Only the warm sun, the white-topped waves, the gulls crying indecipherable complaints. Then the ocean turned sideways and grasped the unsuspecting child. Tossed baby Bettie out to sea.

My new dad did not hesitate. He flung himself in the water. With strong, quick strokes, he reached Bettie. He brought her back to those who loved her.

Every time a storm shakes its fist at the North Carolina coast, I hold my breath. I cringe at the scenes of flattened houses, uprooted trees, water rushing through the streets. I pray for those in harm’s way, and I pray for the coast itself. You see, the North Carolina coast is part of my heart. It has been ever since it sighed and, giving up its prize, returned my little sister to me.

Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina

Hurricane Dorian, North Carolina Coast, riptides, The Outer Banks

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