One night while strolling through one of our favorite boutique shops in Minneapolis, Charlie spotted a glass jar. I politely told him that the jar was meant for a candle and not sea glass. Charlie looked at me with his grin and said “AJ, it says beach on it, a jar that says beach on it, is meant to be filled with sea glass. Duh?” Ok I said and we walked up to the counter to purchase his crazy jar. That was in September of 2011, the jar sat on the island in the kitchen for months.
Upon his return from the beach Charlie religiously deposited a piece of new sea glass into his jar. He would tell me that dark blue was the hardest to find and the most common was clear or green. Charlie has been mesmerized by sea glass since he was a child, often filling multiple jars by summers end. His mother kept all of his jars, each piece represented the mystery of the ocean and his joy of searching the beach. Charlie loved the water and we often spent our weekends on the shores of Lake Superior. I can still picture him on his knees scouring the beach for tiny pieces of treasure. With each piece he found, he safely tucked the glass into his pocket and when his pockets were full, he often turned to me. I would hold his treasure tightly in my hand only to drop it into the jar his mother kept on the back porch.
Charlie would save a few pieces for the jar on the island and often filled it with pieces of glass he found on the beaches around Minneapolis. He bought the jar in September which limited his time to search. Winter came and his jar was only a quarter full, he’d say “I am going to fill our jar this summer.” Summer never came for Charlie, he left before the waves could even break free from the ice and his jar sat half empty waiting for his return. I packed his jar away, my heart was too broken to have the constant reminder sitting out in my home.
I have always loved the beach and would search the sandy grave for hidden treasures. As a child I would collect clam shells, sparkly rocks, and pieces of glass. My father’s pockets proved to be the safest spot for my treasures, he would empty my bounty when we reached the car. I stored my shells, rocks, and glass in a bucket. Over time it got lost, yet my desire to walk the shores remained.
Earlier this summer I decided to finish filling Charlie’s jar. When I visit my parents we go to the beach, my Dad helps me search the shores for Charlie’s treasure. Each time I place a handful of glass and shells into his beloved jar, a part of me heals. I am at a point in the process where I am ok with Charlie being gone and have become open to letting someone else in. As we walk the beach my Dad tells me “No one will ever replace Charlie or fill the void you have, but you have to move on. There is someone out there for you.” My Dad is right, I will never be able to replace Charlie, he will always be a part of who I am. Charlie taught me that its ok to let go and to live life outside of the lines.
Just like Charlie, the sea glass that captured his sense of wonder will always be apart of who I am. For I am just a girl who collects sea glass to fill the empty jar that the man she loved left behind. Filling the jar is my way of saying goodbye. With each piece added I am letting go of the past and healing my beautifully broken heart.