I met Ross in November after a swim when my friend briefly introduced us. It was the very first time I met him. It was also the last.
A few days later when I came back to swim again, the atmosphere on the bleachers felt heavy, absent of the usual chatter and laughs.
I learned that Ross died.
I didn’t have a chance to get to know him but being connected to those who did allowed me to feel the sadness his loss brought to the community.
To honor the memory of Ross, swimmers and friends gathered on the beach for a silent vigil the following Sunday morning.
Holding flowers in their hands, they stood together on the shore in silence while gazing into the distance. It was a quiet and profoundly sad event drawing the largest gathering I have yet seen at the Aquatic Park.
I couldn’t hold in tears as I stood alongside others scattered on the shore, witnessing the pain that brought everyone together that day.
Folks threw flowers into the water making a rainbow of colors on the edge of the sea, as they entered the ocean for a group swim in the memory of a loved one who will never join them again.
I didn’t know Ross, but I felt the irreplaceable void he left behind.
We swim to gain strength and contentment, while building community and making friends to lean on when the inevitable sorrows of life surprise us.
May Ross rest in peace.