Sunrise and Sunset

June 8, 2012

Driving Mom home at sunset, we stopped the car by the beach. Near the water’s edge sat an old couple. As the red ball of sun began to slip behind the sea, the husband helped his wife stand up, then put an arm around her.

And then the sun was gone.

Thursday, June 7, 2012
Kona, Big Island, Hawaii

Bill didn’t want to come out of the water. Neither did I.

I can’t think of a nicer way to spend a morning – in the ocean, shafts of sunlight pierced down toward darkness, infinite depth that sent shivers down my back whenever I glanced down. Dolphins swam by in silence.

Being in the ocean contracts one’s physical reality into cold sea, moving water, bright sunlight. At the same time, reality expands beyond the day’s worries and lists.

Later in the day I stood at the edge of the black sand beach, a tiny strip of gravely sand and jagged lava tide pools between the earth’s lush green and the ocean’s silver blue. The ocean never stops moving. Water flows, curls, crests, then spills across the beach, darkening the sand, bubbling, receding, disappearing.

I stand at the edge of all this motion. Smells of salt and seaweed barely fragrance the air. I feel the cool damp wind on my skin, and curl my toes as sea water sloshes across my feet, leaving a layer of gritty sand.

I feel that I am standing at the edge of time. Here my parents once stood. And when my father died and we came here to honor his life, here is where dozens of dolphins came to spin and play as if to comfort us. How many generations of individuals, like me, have stood here looking across the enormous expanse of water, watching the western horizon change from morning blues and shimmers of white to evening reds, purple then black? The sun becomes a glowing ball of time, sliding behind the straight-line horizon. Day ends.

The last day my father was alive I invited him to walk with me to this little beach and watch the sunset. He was tired. His legs hurt. He did not want to walk another step. “Not tonight. Tomorrow. There will be another sunset tomorrow.”

After playing a morning set of tennis with his buddies, he rested on the couch, had lunch with Mom. He was not feeling quite right. A few hours later he died.

That night I stared at another sunset but my Dad wasn’t alive to watch it.

Time. Sunrise and sunset are holy times.

Nancy Bo Flood

As a fish-brain surgeon or a rodeo poem wrangler, I have loved stories. I strongly believe that words – in poetry or prose – help heal our hearts and give us new eyes to see the world. I was first a research psychologist studying brain development at the University of Minnesota and London University before following my passion – writing for children. Learn more...