The healing aspect of the ocean was on display during the paddle-out for Junior Seau on Sunday, May 6. Heavy hearts, fond memories, and unanswered questions were carried into the shorebreak in front of Junior’s Oceanside house.
With sunny skies, a pulsing south swell, and jam-packed beach, the rush of emotion was balanced by the sight of unified humanity seeking solace in the ocean. As surfers, paddlers, and kayakers gathered, I was humbled by the opportunity to show respect to Junior’s life by participating in the paddle-out.
Words are weak when trying to describe the sound and spiritual energy of the roar that emerged, bouncing off the water’s surface and landing deep in the souls of those in the water: “Fifty-five! Fifty-five! Fifty-five! Junior, Junior, Junior! We love you, Junior! Aloha, Junior!” The splashing water created a rainfall effect of falling water that blinded the eyes; the thumping of hands on surfboards created a sound that I will never forget.
Looking to land, the beach was invisible, covered with throngs of people. The Strand was a line of cars and onlookers. But from the water, the sight of the many people who paddled out felt like a private gathering with a thread connecting all of us like only saltwater can do. Every emotion was felt, and every emotion was on display. But the overriding comfort of being unified in the ocean was the defining emotion for all of us.