Luisa is in the water with the kids and I am standing on the beach, watching from the water's edge. Luisa holds Zeca's hand as the waves crash but Miguel doesn't need a hand to steady him. Luisa has taught him when to ride a wave, when to let it break and when to dive underneath it. I've not mastered this which is why I don't always trust myself to take Zeca into the water. I get caught off balance, surprised by the pull of the water or the unexpected crest of a wave. I stumble without grace, falling into the shallows. I grew up in lakes where there were no tides or thunderous waves - the ocean often makes a fool of me. But Miguel and Zeca understand it - they dance about in the water, instinctively retreating when their footing is unsure or the waves too big.
So, I watch the three of them - so comfortable in the water - and I am in awe.
I fix my eyes on Miguel. He is looking for the perfect wave and wades out until the water is at his chest. I think, "There it is..." but he lets that one break and continues to look out over the water. I stop watching the water because I can't predict the waves and I watch his body instead. I see him brace himself, stretch his arms out and I know that this wave is the one. It rises up and he dives into it. It continues to rise and the sun shines through it from behind and - for a brief moment - I see his entire body illuminated in the wave. It is terrifying because I know that he is beyond my reach and it is exhilarating because he looks like he is flying. I hold my breath. The wave breaks and he emerges from the churning water and runs towards me smiling. I breathe deeply and smile back at him.
Parenting requires letting go and it is not always easy. The image of Miguel bathed in aquamarine is still with me days later. I hope to hold onto it tightly so that it can serve as a reminder that sometimes, when you let your children go, you get to watch them fly.