Although the milage from Los Angeles to Heaven has not been discovered, it is assumed that there are many sunrises and sunsets while on your way.
Knowing that driving to Heaven would be too far for a day trip, Corie figured out a short cut. She found that if you want to reach someone who’s body is no longer on this earth, you go where complete opposites attract. To feel this person would require the physical and emotional connection that is experienced when the sand beneath your feet gets softened by the shoreline. To reach Maddy, Corie would have to let the salt water touch her raw skin. She would have to let the dry sand wedge between her toes and lye in the crevasses of her nails. She would have to let down the barrier that divides the physical and emotional and feel both as if they were one.
Although Sydney and I had not met Maddy, Corie recognized our significance in the matter. She believed our presence was necessary when deciding to embark on this venture. Sydney said it perfectly, “If she was important to you, she is important to us”.
The three of us piled into the car on Saturday afternoon and headed towards that very shoreline. Corie took shotgun and began playing Lana Del Ray. This was an artist that Maddy had introduced Corie too before her passing.
Memories began flowing through Corie’s veins as soon as Lana’s voice was heard through the speakers.
Maddy’s laugh echoing as the chorus started. The peacefulness of her presence as the bass started to tremble. Recalling her goals and ambitions as the instruments created a gentle harmony with the lyrics. As the song neared it’s last versus, Corie revealed the same smile that Maddy once carried.
As we drove along Pacific Coast Highway, I occasionally glanced to my side. I had wished in those aimless seconds what exactly was going through Corie’s thoughts. I imagined different possibilities. Was she thinking about how easily life can change if given the chance? When she looked onto the horizon, was she inspired by it’s vast mystery? In the moments of silence along the way, did she wish she was going to Heaven? Did she truly wish she was taking the uncharted journey to see Maddy?
The music stopped soon after we parked. Corie could not distract herself from the silence any longer. We walked together in unison under the tunnel towards El Moro. The offshore breeze hit our faces as we made our first steps onto the warm sand. It was golden hour; the water was effortlessly glistening against the tired sun. We turned to the left and started walking towards the cliff that protruded out into the water.
The low tide allowed us to scatter around like freed birds. Sydney and I had gone off on our own to give Corie time alone. We were taking pictures against the sunlight, while at the same time trying to capture the royal blue accent in the background. A little ways in front of us, Corie was writing in the sand. Standing behind her, Sydney and I observed her movements as she wrote Maddy’s initials. “MW” had been sculpted into the sand with the date, “2–20” underneath.
She stood above what she had just done and smiled in honor of Maddy.
As we kept walking towards the cliff, we stumbled upon washed up flowers. Maybe this was Maddy, or maybe this was a beautiful accident? We all walked back and gently placed them on top of her initials.
Her toes had dug into the wet sand and her ankles had hit the slow, oncoming tide. Corie had found the short cut to Heaven. She had found where the physical met the emotional in perfect balance. It did not take much to realize Maddy had been with her the whole time.
Maddy was holding her shoulder while she wrote the date of her passing. Maddy was walking along side her when the sun was to her back. Maddy was even waving goodbye as Corie turned to look at the horizon one last time.
Corie felt Maddy. She felt alive.