The dawn of another summer day. Mamaw tightened the soft cashmere throw around her thin shoulders. Slivers of light pierced the velvety blackness over the Cove, and pewter-colored shadows danced on the spiky marsh grass like ethereal ghosts.
Mamaw sat huddled on an oversize, black wicker chair on her back porch, her legs tucked beneath her. The fog was moist on her face and the predawn chill seemed to penetrate straight to her bones. She couldn’t seem to get warm with Lucille gone. Since her dear friend’s death, many nights she’d awakened from a fitful sleep and come outdoors hoping the fresh air would settle her. She’d found scant warmth or peace in the chill of predawn. In the distance, the Atlantic Ocean, her mercurial friend, roared like a hungry beast. The waves were devouring the dunes in a relentless rhythm. Echoes reverberated over Sullivan’s Island.
Over a week had passed since Lucille’s death. Yet she still felt her old friend’s presence around her, hovering in death as she had in life. Dear Lucille. Death came to us all. She knew that. Mamaw was no stranger to death. At eighty years of age, she could hardly have been spared the loss of loved ones. She’d buried her parents, and, too early, her son and husband. Tonight she felt the past was more alive than the present. Memories of her loved ones played vividly in her mind.
Mamaw drew a long, ragged breath. From far away, she heard the mournful bellowing of a ship’s foghorn. From a nearby tree, a bird began calling out his strident dawn whistles . . . a cardinal, she thought.
She listened, stirred from her lethargy by the dawn song. She watched as the morning light, in degrees, brightened the skyline, revealing the ragged tips of green sea grass, palm trees clustered on a hammock, and the towering Ravenel Bridge, appearing as two great sailing vessels, in the distance. Slowly, the rising sun illuminated the darkness, peeling away the shroud from her heart. She felt her despair dissipate with the mist. Mamaw said a prayer of thanks to the rising sun and took a deep breath of the cool, mud-scented air.
Another day was dawning. The worst was over.
Foolish old woman, she chided herself as the gray sky shifted to blue. Look at yourself, sitting in the dark, mourning your friend. Wouldn’t Lucille give you what for if she spied you moping like this outdoors in the damp chill, still in your nightclothes? Who had time to lollygag? Their plan for the summer was not finished! She’d invited her three nearly estranged granddaughters to Sea Breeze in May—and they’d come. The first time they’d been together in over a decade. True, it had so far been a tumultuous summer of change and growth, ups and downs, joys and heartaches. But it was her triumph that they’d weathered the vicissitudes together. Eudora, Carson, and Harper had rediscovered the sisterly love they’d shared as children when they played together during the summers here on Sullivan’s Island. Howling at the moon? She should be crowing like a rooster!
Yet, much was still to be done and she was running out of time. It was already August. The sea turtles were finishing another season, the children would be heading back to school, the ospreys would soon head south with the other migrating birds and butterflies. Summer’s end was fast approaching. Soon, too, her Summer Girls would be leaving.
Mamaw felt a twinge of loss at just the thought. She would miss them—their sweet faces, their chatter“Monroe’s resplendent storytelling shines even brighter . . . [with] startling insights into the intimate connection between nature and the human heart.”