It’s different now. The sun has risen and set many times, and now I stand at the helm. He leans against the rail, gaze on the horizon. My white-knuckles grip the wheel. I’ve been sailing along quite contentedly for a while now.
It happened slowly for me. I didn’t even notice it at first. I thought I was okay. I thought the waters calm, the skies crystal clear. They weren’t. But I didn’t notice. I was too busy sailing along.
I glance at him and am surprised to see his hair standing straight up, the winds ripping it apart in all directions. He no longer faces the horizon, but faces me. I see his lips move. What’s he saying? Why can’t I hear him?
“What?” I say, only to have the winds snatch the words from me.
I glance around. The skies are dark, gray, vicious. The winds a terminal force causing the rock, rock, rocking of the boat. Little faces press against the windows, tears running down. How long have they been crying? I haven’t noticed; I can’t hear them. It swirls around me, the storm, while I stand in its epicenter.
I’m reminded of his time at the helm, of his storm. And now, he pushes away from the rail and struggles against the wind toward me. I feel it now – the hard, steel fist in my heart, the heavy, dark clouds overhead. The weight of it forces me to my knees. My fingers slip from the wheel.
Instead of angering me, the grief of the storm paralyzes me. I slide to me knees. The wheel spins aimlessly. I curl into a ball as the hard planks of the floor digs into my flesh. The wind rages overhead.
Suddenly, strong arms surrounds me, holds me close. The wind lessens as his body blocks the brunt of it. One huge hand grips the wheel in an easy hold. His gaze is focused and determined. He helps me to my feet, keeping me safe all the while.
We face the horizon together. I can stand strong with him beside me.
Even when my knees are shaking.