Friday, September 30, 2022

Dear Beloved Sanibel...

         Dear Sanibel,
        It is heartbreak and anguish to see you shattered and broken. More heartbreak to ponder the human toll in the physical devastation. Dreams gone, homes, jobs life as normal wiped out.
        My pain is in memories only. Family vacations, anniversaries, book launches, special celebrations, times with friends and the dreams you launched. 
        Our girls grew up counting down until spring vacation and our escape from gray, cold and dark mid-west winters; there was excitement even in the wait until we could jet away. 
        We sensed life was kind when we first drove onto the causeway and felt the gulf breeze. So many years, so many of life's great moments, there on your shell tossed sandy beaches and under your thick canopy.
        Year after year Lana and I would walk your shore, being healed by the sun and Gulf, and be recharged to plunge back into life and careers.
        We watched as dear friends created a business, and converted a corner into an art and hospitality peace, and a piece of paradise. We watched our goddaughter grow as an island girl. We slept on the shop floor in our early vists and took pride in what Barb and Dave created.
        All of those grill nights, dinners at Jean Paul's, the Bubble Room, Mc T's and more. All of the laughter.
       Then precious Sanibel, you were where we planned to retire, and so we bought a house, and our dreams took hold. 
        In time our daughter moved there, we spent more vacation visits adding to the years of cherished time.
        My Sanibel Arcanum and The Sanibel Cayman Disc books were published and you helped me celebrate the success. The clippings and interviews and video tape reports now live in the archives of the Indiana Historical Society. All of those wonderful parties and book signings saved for the future.

        It was not about you, nothing about your tropical charm, but we changed focus. Our retired life was to be in California, another coast, another life, but so fondly and sweetly we remembered you, and our dear friends there and the thousands of memories. 
        Now we grieve. We are lucky, the memories remain. You dear precious Sanibel face another daunting time of rebuilding, repair, re-greening and rebirth so you can again be a haven of hope, laughter, peace, and memories. 
        We are sorrowed by the task that faces not only your communities, but the thousands of individual lives that have been altered.
        The Sanibel of my memory and the Sanibel of my novels was changing, as life does. But no one who has enjoyed your magic, your wildlife and wild nature, your devotion to the environment and love of birds can forget how special you were, and that was never to change. Nature will comeback. Ding Darling will again be a refuge and so too will you, precious Sanibel. You rare, east-west, barrier reef island, walking in the Gulf, you have endured for centuries, have taken hits, and have changed, but you always come back. 
        But for now, we hurt, we hurt for you. 

       See you down the trail.


  1. Thank you Tom. Since the hurricane's arrival, Sanibel, Barb, Dave memories have deeply been heartfelt.

  2. You’re family is one of the first I though of when I heard the storm’s potential impact on this place. It has to be a huge reminder of how important being in the actual moment IS, as you were then, when one is in a place and time. Change is always coming in some form. The world needs to be glad for those who firstly notice, and then make record of all the dimension of an experience. Thanks for sharing the thoughts Tom!

  3. We borrow time and place and dreams from the sea as we crowd her shores, but the sea is always in charge. It is the same here on the west coast, though perhaps not quite as vulnerable. We have our vacation home on an island, but our permanent home is on the main land, well above sea level.

  4. I was in a state of high anxiety as Ian passed. Gratefully, Jack and Linda sustained only minor damage. Ft. Myers Beach and our family spot in Bonita are a disasteršŸ˜„