The Last Starbucks on the Beach
Over the course of many summers, my oldest sister and I went on bus trips to the beach in Atlantic City. As often as we were able, we would do overnight trips, where we would stay at one of the casinos. The first one I think we stayed in was the Sands, which is no longer there.
My big sister always had an extremely busy and stressful life; she had lots of irons in the fire. And she really looked forward to those trips because she could leave her responsibilities behind and just have fun. When I think of her in Atlantic City, I think of her with the sun in her eyes and the wind in her hair and a big smile plastered on her face.
We would spend our time hanging out on the boardwalk, shopping in the little shops, climbing lighthouses, eating really tasty things, even occasionally seeing live entertainment. But one of our most favorite rituals of all was our early morning stroll, barefoot, two sisters side by side, in the Atlantic Ocean.
But before we went to the ocean for our stroll, we would hit the closest Starbucks, where we would each buy the largest size coffee available. We would drink those coffees and then when they were empty, fill them up with seashells to take home.
We went on several Atlantic City day trips these past few years. But the last overnight trip we took to the ocean together was in 2014, before my sister got sick. There was an awesome sand sculpting competition (see here and here). That was - but I did not know it at the time, of course - our final morning stroll, with Starbucks, on the beach.
On the day that we buried her, which was one of the worst days of my life, we were invited to share a memory of my sister Barb, and I was the first one to speak. Do you want to know what single, happy memory I shared? Yes, the story of my sister and me, and our morning Starbucks in Atlantic City. I cried as I told it, about how we walked along together and brought back those seashells, our little treasures from the beach.
A thing they do not tell you about how it is when someone dies is that you end up having to go through all of their stuff. And there is stuff you will find that will absolutely gut you. Guess what I got back this week, when going through some of my sister's things. Yes, you guessed it: her final Starbucks cup from Atlantic City, chock full of seashells.
I cried like a baby over that find, let me tell you. I still can't believe she's gone. I miss those days when we strolled, arm in arm, with our feet in the ocean. I am grateful for all of the good times we spent together. But how I miss those happy days of Starbucks, and sun, sand, and sisters on the beach.
(For his part, Tiny Tiger says that if things keep up as they have been this summer, we are probably going to have to hire an entire army of emotional support tigers.)
This song is for my sister, whom I love well and dearly miss: Joan Baez, with I Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer. And this one, well, this one is for me: Pearl Jam, with Just Breathe.