On Picking Up The Pieces

My heart nearly broke in two during our most recent holiday to the Sunshine Coast, and sadly I have my beloved ocean to blame for it!

Fossicking for shells as the tide was coming in, my two oldest children and I would yell out ‘jackpot’ when we found a ‘unicorn’ one.

We’d also leaped for joy at fan shells and a few other beauties. After being at it for about 20 minutes the dreaded thigh chafe #whoatallthepies started to arrive and shit on a stick I was in pain.

With each incoming wave we were presented with new shells, but we had to be quick as they were taken away just as quickly if we didn’t scoop them up.

Clutching our precious relics, mine wrapped up in my dress, my son in his hands, we stumbled along the soft sand along the foreshore. It was quite steep and the waves were pounding.

On Picking Up The Pieces

Just as we neared the rest of the family we found a fish skeleton, it was my 7-year-old’s trophy find. He even showed us how its mouth opened and closed.

With huge grins but salty and sore thighs we absentmindedly watched swimmers get hammered by dumping waves.

I was a few steps in front of my son but as I turned to check on him he fell on the sand, as did his 20+ precious finds.

We urgently scrambled to help him but with one massive wave his entire haul was dragged back out to sea.

We fell to the ground and I ran in to see what I could salvage but there was only one large broken shell that wasn’t stolen back by the ocean.

He cried his little heart out, I did too. Sobbing I told him that he could have all my shells, picking the ones that were like his.

But trying to reason with a little boy who had just spend 30 minutes with his head down combing the beach for goodies only to have them all ripped out of his hands isn’t easy.

We hugged, I felt devastated for him.

I tried to be a little philosophical and tell him that it was the ocean and waves that delivered the shells to us and now it had taken them back.

I told that maybe someone else will find them and they will be just as happy as his was when he spied them. But my heart wasn’t in it.

He was crestfallen and I didn’t blame him. I stopped trying to make him feel better and just cuddled him.

Meanwhile, later my husband told me he and my other child were watching us amble back to base and saw his son fall but thought nothing of it.

It wasn’t until he saw a pile of white items on the ground being dragged to sea and me running about like a mad banshee trying to collect did he realise what had happened.

The large white one is the middle is the one shell I managed to hold on to!

Once my son (and I) had recovered, I cleaned my shells and he picked his favourites. Sure it wasn’t quite the same, but it helped to soften the blow.

You might be thinking I’m a bit of a sook and you’d be right. All I can say is that I am dreading the day that my children have to experience overwhelming sadness and pain.

It’s true that a parent feels their child’s pain twice as hard as they do. But as long as we’re there to pick up the pieces, well try to at least, then hopefully they’ll be able to get through it.

Had to help pick up the pieces recently?

Are you a sookie lah lah like me?


  1. Em that is such a beautiful story. I completely understand how you would have felt. Tears stung my eyes the minute you said he fell because I knew what you were about to say… all of it gone. I agree, it’s so hard to see our kids experience disappointment and makes us want to ‘fix’ it for them. I try to take comfort in knowing that these are the things that teach them resilience and how to cope with set backs that will inevitably come their way as they grow. You also taught him about empathy & compassion by showing him your own. This is a lovely story. x

  2. I’m a massive sookie lah leg and would have cried too. Your poor little man. It is devastating to lose things.

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