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Life, Death, and Fish

Life, Death, and Fish (Sometime in December, 2009)

“Life loves the liver of it.”

Maya Angelou

Last Sunday I drove to Tavernier, in the Florida Keys, to go fishing with my friend Bill.  His wife, Sophia, had died a week earlier from cancer, and we hadn’t seen each other.  Bill lives Oceanside, around mile marker 91, near the old Florida Keys Electrical Cooperative.  We bought some ballyhoo for bait at a gas station and drove to Founder’s Park, on Islamorada.

At sunset, we got a few bites.  I landed a 13-inch red grouper.  It flopped about on the jetty until I removed the hook and threw him back, too small.  Bill landed a smaller grouper and hooked a five-foot lemon shark.  The shark broke the line.

While we cast, Bill told me a story.  Just after Sophia died, Bill got a call from a friend.  She told Bill that she had felt the moment Sophia died, and just afterward, Sophia had spoken to her.  The friend didn’t want to listen, but Sophia’s spirit insisted.  Sophia told Bill’s friend that if she had died sooner, Bill and their three sons, 27, 26, and 17, would have a tough time letting her go.  She had to endure severe pain so that they would feel relief letting her go, just so she wouldn’t suffer.

Sophia’s cancer had spread throughout her body.  Bill tells me that in the final stages, he could see huge lumps the size of baseballs pushing up through her back.  In those last days, even the constant injections of morphine did not relieve the pain.  Twisted in agony, she would cry out that she was dying.

After sunset I saw globs of white-green light floating near the jetty.  Bill told me they were phosphorescent animals, coral, spawning.  I had never seen that.  I made a point of nine-year old Colin, thirteen-year old Ivan, and four-year old Anna Carolina seeing this sometime.

Bill’s 17-year old son Kasem drove us back, but we stopped at the McDonald’s for a vanilla shake Kasem wanted.  Bill had a sundae.  Bill and Kasem asked me to stay for dinner, but I couldn’t.  Anna Carolina needed her bath, Colin wanted a bed-time story, and Ivan was returning from a trip to Naples.

I hugged Bill tight and drove back home, along US 1 in the Keys, over the newly built bridge at Jewfish creek, past the new RaceTrac gas station in Florida City and onto the Turnpike.  Life had to be lived. For those who wants to have fun and potentially earn at the same time, check out dadu online.

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