Today I saw a stunning photo of a beautiful Rio beach posted on Facebook by a friend of mine. I felt my stomach lurch and a deep sense of longing for the sea. I can almost project myself into the photo, feeling the sand beneath bare feet, the water rushing up my legs and then being immersed and carried along by the swell of waves…almost, but not quite.
For the early years of my life I lived not far from the sea in South Wales and then 12 years of our married and family life were spent living in Abu Dhabi, on the shores of the Persian Gulf, so the sea has always been a familiar and loved landscape for me. My husband and I enjoyed amazing breaks walking the costal paths of West Wales, Devon and Cornwall during the early years of our marriage. Many of our family holidays with our daughters were spent by the sea in Wales or in France, and often on islands – Malta, Madeira, Cyprus Lanzarote…and our all-time favorite, the ‘île de beauté’ as the French call Corsica.
Since the onset of my balance disorder nearly 12 years ago I have not seen the sea, as we live in Eastern France on the Swiss border, at least 5/6 hours driving time to the coast. Travelling is just not possible as symptoms are worsened by any motion or movement and quickly become intolerable, making the experience an ordeal. This is one of the painful losses I have sustained through my illness, and it can cause a physical ache of longing, particularly during these summer months, The old saying ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ is very true. I wish I had stored up more images, more memories of times by the sea, and appreciated those moments more. Most of all, I wish I could go and savour some time by the sea again. I wish.