“It’s only his bones that are left, a bit of rotting flesh and skin. His brain, his soul, who he was is gone” I say. The smell of dead sea lion comes and goes with the wind. Fiona starts crying, “I wanna see the sea lion, I wanna sea the sea lion” over and over again. She’s so sad, she keeps crying for what feels like an eternity. I try to console her, “There’s so many more Sea Lions in the ocean”. But realize she needs to go through this. Jack’s not as disturbed by the concept of death and gone forever. He says he doesn’t mind because “He gets to eat it now”. He doesn’t shed any tears for the dead sea lion. We are at Kehoe Beach, Pt Reyes, a place I used to come to on a weekly basis. I tell the babies this, “before you were born I used to take my dog wiggly here all the time”. I try to think back if I have ever taken Billy to this beach and for some reason I can’t remember. I can’t remember bringing Alan to this beach either. Was I keeping it for myself? For me and Wiggly? He was a good dog. I am excited to share this special place with Jack and Fiona today. They can hike the whole way in and out by themselves, with lots of breaks. I must work hard at first to keep my, “it’s just a bit further, we can stop when we can see the ocean” thoughts and wants to myself. Jack sits down. “Look at this dirt, let’s play with this dirt” he says. “There’s better sand at the beach” I say. Then I take off my backpack and sit down with Jack and Fiona on the trail. I look up and there’s a hill of yellow mustard plants, a blue sky. I wait patiently until I’m not waiting anymore. I am enjoying taking it slow. Meandering to the beach. I say to myself we are happy right here, we can sit here all day. We get up and start walking again. Jack and Fiona walk over pieces of wood covering muddy patches, sometimes they walk ahead moving into their own worlds, talking to each other, sometimes one or the other needs my attention to show me a bug or hold their hands.
We finally make it to “Our spot” on the bluff overlooking the magical blue Pacific Ocean, sitting in the warm sand with the sun on our backs. We have our picnic, collect wild flowers, Jack and Fiona play in the sand, get naked, run back and forth, even though I try to tell them “conserve your energy we have a long walk back to the car.” Many wonderful beach goers pass us, we chat, the babies say hello and pet their dogs. So many nice people. One lady stops to chat, “the sea lion is dead” Fiona says. The way she says it sounds like she’s processed the information and while she still mourns the sea lion’s loss, she seems to accepts it. Today I am taking Fiona and Jack to the Marine Mammal Center. To show the other side of death, to show there are many live sea lions and baby sea lions too.