JP's leg was taken by a Great White one blue day at Muizenberg just as we pulled out of the parking lot. We missed the sight of it all, the bloody foam, the horror of him on the beach, turning the colour of the sand as his life ran out - nearly.
It was hard to return to the sea after that. Gary from his surf shop on the Muizenberg strip led the children back. He did handstands on his board to lure them back to the fun of it. The sirens rang at every nervous sighting but they had always been there of cause. And are there still, and soon we were surfing under the warning flags flying and the shark spotters declared that from their high point they could see nothing, anyway.
We took a group of boys and boards to surf most Saturdays, and when they were done, they ate hot boerewors rolls that splattered fat over freezing fingers in the back seat of our Cruiser, with hoodies pulled low while their fringes dripped and they talked about waves. And the years passed, with L and me eating beachfront bistro breakfasts and befriending other surfing Moms and Dads. We waited for the children to come, shivering to us, so that we could warm them with hot chocolate and praise (yes we did see you on that wave...it was you..yes).
And when we left the Fairest Cape we missed that most - that view from Boyes Drive, of straight white lines on the endless streaky blue sea some days and the surfers (we called them sea lice from up there..)
Of cause L had been one of them a long time ago. I always say I have the photographs to prove it all - the combi, the girl, the dog, the long hair, the surfboard. Some his age are still out there on the waves, all crusty and craggy and still living the kiff life we sometimes dreamt of.
Our girl is mostly surfing now, still turned as she was, to the waves. She crouches low and rides long sometimes. We watch them now from the big square deck there, sheltering under the canopy of umbrellas. Our boy hauls out the longboard and rides - still, lean and lazy to the shore.
We watch them as always and they come out and find us for their reward of steaming salty vinegary chips perhaps, or, with the sun beating down, a lime milkshake in a lime green retro glass like a vase.
Sometimes in the heat I grab a boogy board and head on down myself, to be pulled to shore by a foaming breaker. I no longer stay in long enough for the rhythm and rolling of the seas tugging to come back to me, at night before I fall asleep.
But dream I do, of stepping out into liquid, and riding.