Littoral Eulogy.

As I was running along Ocean Beach this morning, I came upon a most extraordinary memorial written out in the sand. I slowed down my pace and I read along the length of what was scrawled there, some hundred meters long, weaving its way down the shore almost as far as the eye could see. There was no looking away, no continuing on until it was done.

In the event, I had to quickly run home and return with pencil, paper, and camera to capture the message before it was washed away by the tireless tide. It needed to be remembered and shared. I was so incredibly moved by this evanescent tribute, surrounded by spirals and hearts dug into wet sand, peace symbols carved and sand dollars gingerly laid, and the smiling face of a man made from stones and shells.

I was extremely lucky to be there this morning. What follows is the text of the message:

Dear Tommy, I wanted to do something special for your birthday. It’s hard when you’re not here in body, but I know you’re always with me in spirit. Remember when we made sand candles with Mom on Carmel Beach? The tide came in too fast and I lost one red Ked’s. I miss you sooo much, more than I missed my shoe that day. I decided I would write to you for your birthday, big brother. I listen in my dreams for your reply. Say Hi to Mom and all our relations. Love, your baby sister, Jennie Star.

Thomas Malcolm Wright

Piper (Scottish)
Candle Maker

The Eyes of Liberty are Watching.






I dearly hope they are, for we have never needed a more desperate infusion of the stuff. I hope the boundless sea helps with this task.


By the time I returned, the first two sentences were all but wiped away by the foamy water. All that was left behind was the trace of a stick-line in the sand, once dripping with intention, emotion, and moisture.


In the end, we all get wiped away, and we can most earnestly hope that others will write our stories for future eyes to gaze upon, perhaps one day unexpectedly, as they go about their busy lives. The tide always comes in too fast.

36 Responses to “Littoral Eulogy.”

  1. divineseduction Says:
    May 30th, 2006 at 8:59 pm


  2. marasca Says:
    May 30th, 2006 at 9:02 pm

    That's really beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  3. FunkyPlaid Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 1:27 am

    My pleasure. What a message!

  4. catness Says:
    May 30th, 2006 at 9:38 pm

    The universe shares so much with you. I think it's great that it recognizes you as its emissary.

  5. FunkyPlaid Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 1:28 am

    This is a gift, and so are your words here. Thank you.

  6. agntprovocateur Says:
    May 30th, 2006 at 9:59 pm

    what a great birthday present!

  7. kimmaline Says:
    May 30th, 2006 at 11:27 pm

    Wow. I'm really glad I share my birthday with Tommy. 🙂
    And, I like the idea, the eulogy in the sand. I may have to use that…
    May I assume that you don't mind if I link to this?

  8. FunkyPlaid Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 1:24 am

    Link if you think it's succinct.

  9. aureliasveil Says:
    May 30th, 2006 at 11:30 pm

    You don't know me but I came to your journal via dichroicynosure . I have added you as a friend, if you don't mind…

  10. FunkyPlaid Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 1:25 am

    It's a pleasure and an honor. Adding you back promptly; thanks for saying Hi.

  11. dichroicynosure Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 4:30 am

    hey, I was going to introduce the two of you…
    This is why I love the Bay, people are alive, they cherish each other in the most beautiful ways and then you share the moment and pass on the light. Thanks.
    you are missed

  12. FunkyPlaid Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 9:13 am

    I owe you a catch-up letter, miss East/West. Coming very soon.

  13. eskimolimon Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 2:20 am

    That's really beautiful, thanks for recording it for us. The experience of growing up having lost a big brother or sister, looking back on them being somehow frozen in youth & time must be incredibly difficult.
    I blubbed at the final episode of Six Feet Under when I saw Claire still had a photo of Nate pinned to her wall 80 years after his death!

  14. FunkyPlaid Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 9:24 am

    Yes, yes. I'm especially touched that she's still honoring him sufficiently seventeen years on.

  15. diotina Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 2:58 am

    I'd love to link to this too, if you don't mind. There's something about being so moved first thing in the morning…

  16. FunkyPlaid Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 9:14 am

    Absolutely. Spread it far and wide.

  17. rathgild Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 3:48 am

    So ephemeral and so obviously from the heart. You were lucky to have witnessed it.
    PS Any plans on coming back to Edinburgh? Buccleuch Place is getting quiet.

  18. FunkyPlaid Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 9:20 am

    I'm glad you were touched by it as I was.
    Well, I'll be coming by for three weeks and visiting this fall, but my plans for a permanent return fall along a five-year plan that's already two years in. It's going to happen, but not for a wee while.
    I've been trying to figure out who you are for some time now; obviously you're a bright student from the hallowed halls of Buccleuch? With the esteemed Tom Devine as our new head, I sincerely doubt anything within three miles of the place will be quiet… 🙂

  19. rathgild Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 9:38 am

    More the keeper of the photocopier.

  20. FunkyPlaid Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 9:55 am

    Holy shit. Now it all falls into place – glad to see you again!
    For a moment, I became worried that now I'd have to restrain my academic commentary on the grounds that you're reading. But after browsing your own journal, I see that we're on even ground, and that I'm in safe hands.

  21. no_mans_land Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 3:49 am

    <small>that is so poignant, words won't do it justice.
    thank you.</small>

  22. occular Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 4:00 am

    Just… wow. Thank you so much for sharing that. What chance that you would happen upon that and preserve it!

  23. FunkyPlaid Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 9:21 am

    Luck and fortune, my dear man. So glad you love it, too.

  24. avalokita Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 5:34 am

    That's beautiful.

  25. hello_moonytoes Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 6:23 am

    I miss the Bay.<3</p>

  26. FunkyPlaid Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 9:26 am

    Rumor has it that it's still here, waiting patiently for your return when you're able.

  27. lunesse Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 7:39 am

    *gulp* *sniff*

  28. kid_lit_fan Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 9:06 am

    Lovely, just lovely. Thank you for showing it to us!

  29. parnasus Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 10:26 am

    Have you had your dailly dose of ovewhelming joy and sarrow today?
    I don't know which is more moving, knowing that the pain of such loss can endure so much time, or that our love for eachother can thrive so long after we have parted ways. I'm feeling totally at balance with these emotions, what a place to be standing.
    Thank you for sharing.
    You are blessed in your life, I'm happy to get these glimpes.

  30. FunkyPlaid Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 1:40 pm

    Re: Have you had your dailly dose of ovewhelming joy and sarrow today?
    Yes, both are powerful paradigms; I'm glad that both were evoked for you. Thank you for reading, as always.

  31. nekkidboy Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 1:01 pm

    I feel that this message was designed to be temporary, its purpose to be lost. Perhaps finding this most personal of messages trundling around the internet as a meme may hurt the very person who has touched you all. Rather than linking to it and spreading it everywhere perhaps it should be removed.
    Some things are better as memories.

  32. FunkyPlaid Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 1:27 pm

    While I greatly respect your feelings about this message, I don't think the person who wrote it would agree that she didn't want people to see it. After all, it was written in gigantic letters across a very well-trodden area of one of San Francisco's public beaches.
    I feel very strongly that the fleeting nature of life is too easily forgotten, and so are the memories of people whom we love. In the end, that's all we have. Isn't this why we both are passionate about history? This issue haunts me on a daily basis, and as someone who has lost four people close to me in this one last year, I think rather than being 'a meme trundling around the Internet', this is a celebration of an important person's life. Just look at the reaction of those who have seen it. It is an acknowledgment of the beauty and temporal quality of humanity, not a mocking of it, or an insult to it.
    You can say that the memory of this person or this memorial should be transient, but I strongly disagree. I hope this is taken with the correct intention.

  33. rachel_eurydice Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 2:43 pm

    That's just amazing. I have goosebumps now.

  34. scothen_krau Says:
    May 31st, 2006 at 3:32 pm

    I would agree that it was probably meant to be seen, or at least not intended to be private. The scale and transitory nature of it fits with the place the message is supposed to be going. Much like writing a message to the dearly departed on a scroll, and burning the scroll.

  35. FunkyPlaid Says:
    June 1st, 2006 at 8:47 pm

    I agree completely. Besides, he deserves to be seen and to be remembered.

  36. gingiber Says:
    June 1st, 2006 at 3:48 am

    What an amazing and beautiful find.

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