It’s good to have friends that know you.
Friends that don’t humour you by agreeing to come to your boring hotel pool and jacuzzi but instead go ahead and plan an open water swim in the WhatsApp group despite the howling winds and lashing rain.
Friends that know, before you know, that you’ll never turn down the chance of a sea swim because ‘you never regret it once you’re in’ and it’s exactly what you need.
Friends that smirk when your car pulls up just in time and tell you there’s a flask of black coffee for after even though they usually take milk which you can’t stand.
We all stand in the dune sizing up the huge waves and the violent white horses and say ‘sure we’re wet already in the rain’.
The lifeguard battles the elements to forbid us to swim until she recognises us and says ‘Oh you lot, g’wan’.
And we’re off.
It’s so rough we have to choose our point of entry carefully so we’re not thrown up on the rocks.
Knee deep and it’s do or die, choosing between being knocked back or pulled in.
J is off and I follow, C still on the shore waiting for a lull and she’s under.
We exchange panicked looks until her coloured hat reappears and we three are bobbing and screaming and there’s no other place we’d rather be.
We’re being pulled, we’ve risked enough, it’s time to go back.
I’m nearly in and a 10 footer catches me in its surf and slam dunks me to the sea floor like a wet sponge.
There is no room for grief, only survival.
Then the sea is done with me, spits me out and throws me to land.
Perhaps the best way to remember our dead is to feel truly alive.
Daddy, R.I.P. 25/08/17