That is what a man told us when we found a purple starfish on the beach, that early morning 20 years ago, when we went to watch the sunrise. That was when my future husband and I were just getting to know one another. We were in that exciting, wonderful stage of a relationship when feelings of friendship start growing into feelings of love. When every moment of being together is fun, exciting, innocent, and new.
Twenty years later, my husband and I came back to our old “stomping grounds” to celebrate our upcoming 20th wedding anniversary. We live far from here now, but every chance we get, we come back to St. Augustine to visit. We love it here. We love being by the beach. We love being able to walk downtown and visit the unique and interesting little shops along St. George Street. To us, this is our home. This is where we met and fell in love and our new life began.
Every time we come for a visit, we go to the beach and we go back to our favorite restaurant, the Oasis. We walk among the familiar shops down St. George Street and discover new ones that have sprung up. And of course, we pay a visit to my old college. We walk through the breezeway, where so many wordless hugs were exchanged. Where so many “I love you’s” were felt, but not yet spoken. We reminisce.
Last night, we drove to this one spot near the beach where we use to park the car, open the sunroof, lay our seats back and just talk. Minus the sunroof, we did that again. And suddenly, for the first time since we have been coming back here, I felt very sad. Through my tears, I told my husband that I suddenly grew very sad at the thought that all of those memories, all of that “newness” that we had so long ago…that it’s gone. We will never be able to recreate those memories and those feelings again. We will always love one another, in fact, our love has only grown stronger and deeper throughout the years. But the joy of discovery…the way your heart use to leap every time you saw one another….it’s gone. I suppose it just hit me suddenly for the first time. We talked for awhile about all of the things we love about one another and how far we’ve come and we talked about a few of our memories from those early days in our relationship. Like the love letters we use to write to one another. We lived only a few miles apart, but we would write important letters to one another about nothing at all that we couldn’t wait to receive in the mail. And then we remembered the time we drove to the beach we were now parked at to watch the sunrise and we found a starfish together. As soon as we picked it up this complete stranger all of a sudden appeared and told us, “it’s an omen”. As we were reminiscing, my husband then asked a very good question that I had never thought of before when he said, “Where did that guy even come from?? It’s like he just appeared out of nowhere the minute we picked up that starfish!” True…upon reflection…that was odd that a stranger would then appear and make that comment. Thinking not much more about it, we soon drove back to where we were staying, leaving another memory there, at the beach.
The next morning, we decided to go for a run along the beach. As we were running, I remember thinking to myself, “Man, I wish he (my husband) would look down from time to time to watch his step so he doesn’t stumble.” He rarely looks down when he runs and has stumbled from time to time. I guess I was just worried about him. It wasn’t but a few seconds later that my husband suddenly stopped running to look at something. There, amongst all the shells and all the people, without even having his glasses on, he found a starfish. We couldn’t believe it. And neither of us had to say it. God, as he has always been, was there, in our midst last night listening to us grieve a little over the time we would never get back. The feelings that would never quite be the same. The youthfulness and vitality, the energy and innocence that floats in the air around our old favorite places; that we can remember so well we can almost feel it, but is now just out of our reach. And in finding this new starfish, this “omen” that made us believe even more in our predestined love all those years ago, God was reaffirming our love. He was reaffirming all of those wonderful moments and memories that He gave us. And He was telling us that love goes on. Real love never really begins–it was always there, just waiting to be discovered. And real love never ends.
Memories and moments will always be created and treasured. They will begin and they will end. But what really matters is the love that remains.
Love, His love for us, and our love for one another is timeless. And that is what I will always remember.