Letter to Camille: The Great Big Ocean

Hello sweet girl. You’re sleeping soundly in your crib, worn out after a big day of playing. I wanted to write to tell you about a special thing that happened today.
To you, it was not a big moment. As we walked over the boardwalk and across the sand dunes, you were probably more concerned with the sun in your eyes than with that huge, enormous, noisy expanse of water stretching out in front of you. But to me, it was a very special event.
We took you to Tybee Island today, for your very first visit to the beach (extra-utero). Trent is in town, and we wanted to eat lunch at North Beach Grill, one of our favorite Tybee dives.
The food was good as usual, and you were mostly content as long as one of us held you.
Your Daddy and I took turns. You enjoyed sitting up on our laps, with your feet pushing against the table. Your little legs are getting so strong – you love trying to stand and jump.
When we finished eating, we crossed the parking lot and headed for the beach. As we neared the end of the boardwalk, I was actually tingling a bit as I thought about the moment- I know, your mom is a little dramatic.
It’s hard for me to explain, but one day I think you’ll understand. The ocean is just such an incredible thing. It’s an entire universe of water, sand, and creatures, always in motion. It can be beautiful one day; grey and moody the next. It can be soothing or terrifying. It’s so large, its waves can caress several continents at once. It is always amazing.
As a child, I loved the ocean. When we would vacation on the coast, I could spend day after day in the water and the sand. Every night, I’d be exhausted, but satisfied. I remember lying down in bed and closing my eyes, still feeling like the water was moving beneath me.
As an adult, I still love the ocean. When we drive across the Lazaretto Bridge onto Tybee Island, I like to take a deep breath and smell the salt in the air.
I know there are many, many people who have never seen the ocean. I think that’s sad. I hope the beach will be one of your most-loved playgrounds, and a frequent backdrop of your favorite childhood memories.
Cami, I’m sorry I don’t have a better picture of your first visit to the beach. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, with a bright sun warming the air so well we had to take off your jacket and fleecy pants. We ate beneath the shade of an umbrella at the restaurant, but as we walked toward the ocean, I became terrified that you would get a sunburn.
The sun’s rays were surely more like fiery lightening bolts from Zeus himself, ready to turn your super-soft baby skin into a sunburned, peeling, haven for skin cancer. I tried to cover you with a burp cloth, but the whipping wind was spoiling my efforts.
I was too preoccupied with any potential sunburn to actually pose for a picture. In retrospect, I’m sure we would have all likely survived even if I had abandoned my burp-cloth-cover-up quest for a minute or two to take a good picture. But I just couldn’t bear the thought. I did, however, pause for the briefest of moments to watch the sea breeze lift your hair, and listen to the waves curling along the sand. You didn’t understand the magnitude of the moment, but I think you still enjoyed it. And I hope we’ll have many opportunities for good beach photos as you get older. And next time, I’ll bring the sunscreen.