“Mommy, why are we walking so far down the beach?”
“Because I want to show you something magical. It’s a place my mother showed me when I was about your age.”
Bubbles danced up through Sabrina as she held her mother’s hand and they continued to walk the beach. “Look, Mommy, the birds are as excited as I am!” Sabrina’s eyes twinkled as she watched the birds dive into the waves and dance on the sand.
They had almost reached a pair of coconut palms when Sabrina’s mother stopped walking. She sat on the sand, and Sabrina sat next to her and followed her mother’s gaze toward the two trees.
“What is it, Mommy?” Sabrina’s eyes danced with curiosity.
Her mother pointed over to the two tall trees and let out a breath before she spoke. “Do you see those two trees?”
Sabrina gazed up at her mother, her shoulders sagging a bit as she wondered why her mother would ask her such a simple question. Everyone could see the two coconut trees sitting in the middle of a beach. She narrowed her eyes and replied, “Yes, Mommy. I can see them.”
“You can!” her mother said with a surprising flicker of excitement that instantly raised Sabrina’s curiosity once again. “Can you keep a secret?” her mother asked.
Sabrina’s eyes went wide as dinner plates, and she nodded her head. Then she leaped to her feet, facing her mother, and bent over slightly to be eye to eye with her, waiting not-so-patiently for the secret to be shared.
Without a word, her mother stood, reached for Sabrina’s hand, and they continued walking toward the two trees.
The two-coconut palms danced in the breeze, and as Sabrina and her mother approached, Sabrina noticed their interesting features. Although their root bases were only about six feet away, their trunks had grown in opposite directions, and then it seemed years later, the trees had begun to grow and leaned toward one another. The two trees arched into a heart shape where their coconuts almost intertwined. Their ripe coconuts had fallen around what appeared to be a bench, but when they walked closer, Sabrina stopped in her tracks and took a deep breath.
“Mommy, is that a grandparent tree’s trunk?” Her gaze fixed on the uniqueness around the two fallen tree trunks.
Her mother was amazed at how perceptive Sabrina was at such a young age, but before she began to tell her the story, she knew they must walk up closer to the trees. A coconut tree lives from sixty to eighty years and is considered a “three-generation tree” because it can support a family and its children and grandchildren. They are slow to mature, taking six to ten years before they grow coconuts. However, not these trees. They had always had coconuts and looked this way.
They reached the base of the trees and stopped. Sabrina’s eyes danced like fireflies, her heart flipped and flopped, and her feet wanted to dance. She didn’t know why she felt this way, but it was exciting and scary all at once.
“Before we enter, you must learn that this place can only be seen by us.” Her mother looked down, and Sabrina’s gaze slowly met hers and her eyes narrowed with disbelief. “Remember, it’s our secret and once you enter the tree area, you can no longer be seen by others. So, you must make sure no one sees you before you enter and are not looking this way when you exit,” she said in her firm motherly tone.
Sabrina’s eyes brightened, and her body slightly shivered. Feeling excitement and fear all at once, she smiled and sputtered out a nervous giggle.
Her mother squeezed her hand and smiled back at Sabrina. “I felt the same way you do when my mom brought me here for the first time, but I can assure you, just as she did for me, that this place is a safe place for us to be. Are you ready to know the whole story, or do you want to wait another year?”
Sabrina didn’t know she had a choice, so she looked down at the sand and pondered the question, sorting through the feelings that flooded her insides. She looked back up to the trees, and they were gone. Her insides suddenly cried out, her heart felt as if it were being ripped in two, and her knees went weak. Her mother squeezed her hand as they looked at one another. Sabrina felt a sudden rush within her as the trust and love of her mother filled her body with strength.
“Do you see it?” her mother asked.
“I did, but now I don’t.” The brims of Sabrina’s eyes filled but didn’t spill over, and she sniffed hard before saying, “If I have to wait I will. I am ready, but I will wait for the right time if I have to.”
“Those are brave words. Are you sure you don’t want to walk inside?” her mother asked.
Sabrina shifted from foot to foot, her gaze falling back onto the sandy floor. She tilted her head, thinking about her mother’s question. How can I go inside something I cannot see? she thought.
She was fearful of looking at the empty place where the beautiful coconut trees had stood in their lovely stance, because she didn’t want to see it vacant. She wanted to dismiss the disappointment that would surely deflate her body and craved the bubbling sensation that arose before her doubts had flooded her mind. Inside, she felt her mother’s encouragement to “light the world on fire” and wanted more than anything to do just that, go forth and be herself, find her passion. Without thought, without hesitation, Sabrina looked up toward her mother before her gaze was drawn back toward the heart-shaped coconut palms.
At the sight, her fear fluttered away. Butterflies appeared and flew up and around the trees. Relief became a river inside Sabrina and flooded her soul with happiness. She skipped over to the fallen tree trunks and realized, they hadn’t fallen in pain or death but rested between the towering trees and had a life of their own. Her mother nodded with approval, and Sabrina’s hands slid over the soft surface of the carved wood. Slowly it revealed its shapes and grooves, whittled art to be admired. Her eyes twinkled as she realized they were stories within stories. She found a latch and lifted, and inside the tree-like-bench were hidden treasures. She smiled and giggled, laughed until her belly hurt. Laughter so contagious, her mother laughed and laughed, falling down to the sandy floor beside Sabrina.
In this special place where the world feels light, they can spend days in laughter with no worldly worries. Laughing until their limbs go weak and they fall to the floor and need to wipe their tears away. Mother and daughter—two people who touch each other’s soul.
I hope that you can escape to a place where the weight of the world feels light. Spend days laughing until your belly hurts and with people who touch your soul. The world of make-believe, a happy place, is a place everyone wants to be. Even if it’s only for a moment or two, you should go.