The winter’s brown grasses at the lake water’s edge dance a curved prayer toward the sun’s face. It is a warm day in the deep South with cascading flocks of birds singing as they swoop and flit.

Winds blow the blissful chatter of her babies building sand castles while they strip off all semblance of modesty. Their cloth diapers, soaked and heavy, lay like discarded clouds on the beach. Her babies want to be free. She understands.

Her father looks down the hill from his cottage window at the unfolding scene. He is simultaneously an artist and a soldier. It serves him well.

He wonders when his time will come to leave his daughter, her explorative artistic mind and leave with her spirit-filled daughters. He likes watching this young little mother gently teach her babies the world of living.

He aches for his own mother, having lost her when he was twelve. Still he feels her skin, breathes her scent, hears her voice. She caresses his skin as she, dying beside him, encircles him with her devotion and her arms. He reads aloud to her, listening to the beating of her heart as it becomes more and more faint.

Sent away with his brother and sister when Maman becomes ill, doctors insist that only he be returned to his mother’s side as she transitions from the living. It forever changes his heart.

Within six years, he will bury his father as well. His father lives long enough to see him break the United States national record in backstroke and graduate from his beloved high school.

Then, he is alone.  Drawn to all waters he is most comforted when immersed completely. His tears always at the edge yet never flowing, always at the edge.

Watching the frolicking family members on the beach, he is suddenly aware of his 16 year-old son standing beside him, his breath even and steady. They stay in silent accord, watching their little family navigate the sweet waters of Lago d’Crystalle. The little ones squeal, jump, and splash the waters.

It is the sight of healing water that beckons the sore heart, the useless, and those with no purpose. He realizes he is not finished. There is more to do.