I saw the date today and realized it's been one full month since Joey was lost. I can't remember the last time some one thing has taken such a monopoly over my thoughts. Maybe Ryan's last deployment. 'Not sure.
I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach when I first heard Joseph went missing. This is a well populated area. Borrowing someone's cell phone is not hard to do . . . if you're conscious and on land. The Gulf is a different story, and generally much too rough for your average kayak to stay upright for very long.
The following morning Ryan and I joined my grandfather on his boat and searched up and down Grande Lagoon and the bay near NAS. I thought there was a chance Joey had spent the night on the beach somewhere and would come home or call soon. It was a beautiful, beautiful day and the sun was strong. The water around Admiral's Island and Fort McRee was glassy clear. Several times I saw something move far off, but pulling in closer it was always a piece of trash, or a dolphin, or nothing. When you stare at the water long, enough even the sun hitting the waves starts to look like something else.
By the afternoon there had been zero contact from him, and I feared we'd be finding a body. I wasn't really sure what to want. I wanted to know where Joey was and what had happened to him, but I didn't want to know that he had died. I'd see something bob below the surface and half hope to find something meaningful and yet half hope it wasn't Joseph.
That evening we worked on clearing out the apartment. Our bedroom window opened to the bay which looked big and empty and flat. The sun was setting and we watched it for the last time from our balcony. That night I was really glad we were moving. I had multiple reasons, but I really just didn't want to look at the bay anymore.
Ten days later a kayak washed up on Okaloosa Island that is believed to be Joe's. Joseph and his dog Frannie never appeared and are presumed to have drowned. It is so hard to wrap my mind around that scenario. Joseph was such a strong athlete. And yet to stare out over Gulf, when those waters stretch so far and wide, you can also imagine just about anything being swallowed up by them.
There was a funeral of sorts last weekend--a memorial mass--for Joseph. The church was packed, reduced to standing room only, and the parking lot overflowed along the sides of the highway. Inside, I kept looking towards the door and thinking, "Joey, this would be a really great time for you to show up, and you'd better have a good story." Who shows up at his own funeral? Either Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn. I can't remember. But not Joseph.
I'm not as stoic as the Kanes and couldn't keep my eyes dry. My sister-in-law Kaley found me after mass and it was a relief to see someone else who has "the gift of tears," as Joannie would say. Misery loves company.