Hope by the Lakeside

3 min readJul 2, 2021

“Mom, do we have to let the dragonfly go? She’s my friend.”

“Well, we could keep her but your daddy always said ‘If you like a flower, you pluck it knowing it will die. If you love a flower, you water it so it may grow.’ Life must be allowed to grow.”

Photograph by Blvk Shots Photography. All rights reserved.

Claudette looked down at the cage in her hand and began to cry. I knelt down next to her, asking why she cries,

“Because she might forget me!”

I rested my hands on her shoulders; the signal to look me in my eyes.

“No child can forget a parent that raised them. Just as a parent could never not worry about their child.” Life is full of choices, but the ones we make out of love and loyalty remind us of who we are. It’s okay to cry, sweetheart.”

I glanced at our family photograph on the wall; my daughter hugged me, “You’re crying too, mommy.”

Dammit Hughe, we miss you.

“We got something!”

Over the radio, the indecipherable shout wrenched me back to the desperation of our circumstances; a Friday like no other…

> <

Sprinting half a mile toward the lake behind our home with a Ranger and his Doberman, I recognized Passean’s voice on a nearby radio signaling all-units to converge. Gliding its way to the horizon, hues of gold, pumpkin, scarlet, and royal blue began to fill the air. Muddy footprints began to landfall into one another as the flashlights flickered on, one-by-one. The life of the forest transgressed from chirping to cricketing, deer-snapped twigs to eerie “hoots.”

Dusk had arrived.

The Doberman led us to the edge of Okeechobee's Lake and I began to swallow so hard, so violently, that a rock could go down my esophagus. The gut-wrenching barks marked confirmation; Hughe’s out there.

> <

I felt a warm and unassured hand rise against my back side. A shiver…so sudden…ran through my body as the words, “We are going to find him,” echoed from hers. Passean is the sheriff in town and she had a soft spot for missing persons, as she had lost her son that way.

“Follow the embankment! I want three boats, two bodies each. We need spotlights!”

There were thirty people, save me, and yet I never felt more alone. I stared at the lake’s fading horizon, listening to the moon’s tide slap against the naked Water Tree roots. Searching the waves for a wave, a whiff of his hair, a backside floating…anything at this point that symbolized life…or closure.

Photograph by Blvk Shots Photography. All rights reserved.

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