It was a beautiful day in Monterey last Saturday. Warm, sunny, and with just the right breeze. Asilomar Beach looked like a custom Instagram filter set on "high" and, hey! Would you look at that! A nice wedding! There on the beach nestled in the corner where the sand met the rock were several dozen people dressed their best and sitting on white folding chairs while two people exchanged vows and rings. "What a perfect day for a wedding", I thought. In the distance families played on the beach, brave souls dipped their toes in the frigid ocean, dogs fetched sticks, and everything was beautiful.
We walked quietly passed the wedding and strolled the beach for a bit before deciding to head back. As we walked we noticed emergency vehicles parked on the road directly in front of the wedding. Had something happened to a wedding guest? As we got closer a couple surfers had come out of the water and were running towards the water near the now-winding-down wedding. Something was wrong.
Making our way towards the growing commotion, we pieced together an understanding that someone in the water was in trouble. The waves were pretty massive so we believed an inexperienced surfer had gotten hung up on some rocks or was in some other predicament. The wedding was over and people were leaving - yet some remained and scanned the rocks, waves, and water that had just been their amazing wedding backdrop for whoever was in peril. Other folks stopped and looked to the roiling white water and unforgiving rocks. A Coast Guard ship arrived. And then another.
Two swimmers, brothers, had gotten in trouble - pulled out into the freezing ocean by the riptide. A surfer managed to grab one and paddle him back to shore. But when he went back out to save the other, he was already gone. Disappeared.
The wedding party had by then dispersed. The white chairs were being folded and carried away. The make-shift stage, dismanted. Flowers were left behind.
As we walked back to our car, we kept hoping for some sign of success. Maybe the swimmer made it to an outlying rock and was holding on waiting to be rescued? Maybe? But nothing. As the sun began to set and the sky turned pink then orange, a Coast Guard helicopter and jet ski joined the search. And then the sun slid beneath the horizon.
I feel that I actually saw these two kids running into the water. I was about a quarter mile away but recall seeing these two young guys running full tilt towards the water - obviously in a race of some sort. A challenge, a dare, a competition to brave the ocean waves first. Just like brothers do. It stood out and I remember it clearly. I wondered if it had been them.
And then I thought about distance. Closeness. And how close we all are to the very best of things and the end of it all. At any given time. I considered that while the bride and groom were sharing one of the most important, loving, and glorious moments of their lives, an 18-year-old kid was fighting for his life in the ocean a couple hundred yards away. He must have been so close. Could he see the wedding as the waves lifted him up? Did he catch a glimpse of the bridesmaids just before he went under?
I now pronounce you Man and Wife... Darkness.
His name was Bryan Capdevielle, 18-years-old and he was from Moraga, CA. His brother, 16-years-old, was the one who was saved by the surfer. READ