The family and I took a little trip down to Monterey for the weekend.
Visited aquarium. Enjoyed Dennis the Menace playground. Spent copious times climbing rocks at all times of tide.
And on that beach, halfway between high and low tide, we stepped carefully around small tide pools, watching crab and snails and fish and anemone adjust to their temporary life in a warm pond.
We marveled at a distant rock island, maybe half a mile away, that held three young seals. And we wanted to get closer.
So we weren’t really watching as carefully where we stepped. After all, we were among only shells and rocks at this point in the tide-pool search.
Do you see that?
We almost didn’t, until we were way too close.
Poor little stranded seal pup.
Every ten minutes or so, another family came carefully picking through the tidal zone, and every one stopped about ten feet from her and stared. And she seemed shy. Sad. Lonely. All the anthropomorphic adjectives I could heap on a baby without her mama.
We checked the ground to see how wet it was, debating whether the high tide would really come bring her back to her family.
Everybody else marveled at her and moved along.
The kids kept asking, “Is someone going to make sure she’s okay?” Spouse and I explained about the tide and about how she could wiggle into the water once it came.
But I doubted. And as we walked away I came back three times.
“But mom,” the youngest asked, “is anybody going to help her?”
“Yes,” I said. “I am.”
I googled “report stranded marine mammal Monterey” on my phone. Because that’s why Google was invented, right?
The Marine Mammal Center has a hotline. A delightful creature whose name I forget walked me through a checklist of questions about the seal’s size and health. And location. Lots of details about location. And she dispatched volunteers to the site to check on the pup.
I have no idea if that baby made it back to the ocean. I have no idea if I’m the only one who called. But I told my kids their first lie today. At bedtime, when my little guy interrupted the nighttime songs to ask if the seal pup was okay, I told him that the Marine Mammal Center emailed me to tell me that she got back into the ocean with no trouble.
I should have just said, “I don’t know.” I should have said, “we did our best.” There is no reason to trick kids about happy endings. Heck, we don’t tell them about Santa or fairies or storks, so why tell them that babies are always safe?
Well just this once, I want to live in a world where heroes save the day. Where people like the Marina Mammal Center do their best and fight for the voiceless.
Because isn’t that what Memorial Day is all about? Remembering those who fight for what they believe in?
I hope you’re okay, sweet seal babe. You and every creature on the planet tonight. I hope you’re okay.
A special thanks to all the heroes who fight for others, in and out of uniform. Happy Memorial Day.