They say there are no such things as coincidences in life. The day an old man by the name of Pepe fell off the Bal Harbour jetty and I just happened to see him was proof enough for me that saying was true. I was definitely in the right place at the right time. At least, it seemed that way.
For whatever reason, my usual Saturday morning run was delayed by at least three hours: I had overslept, meandered around my apartment tidying up for too long and afterward spent way too much time on social media. I thought I was procrastinating, stalling, feeling uninspired to exercise, but looking back at it now, I’m not so sure.
Finally, when the mood struck or at least when I was about to run out of ME time, (because I was hosting two events for Deco Drive that evening,) I tugged on my sneakers and headed for the walking path behind my condo. I cherished my time sweating it out on the beach. It’s one of the few pleasures in life I get absolutely lost in.
I love the way the ocean sounds, how the wind feels and the air tastes; thick with salt and humidity. When I jog, I listen to my favorite music and let the beat guide me, syncing my breathing and steps together until I eventually find my pace. On this particular day, though, I ran with such strength and determination it actually surprised me. It was as if someone or something was willing me forward, almost carrying me to my destination.
Earlier that morning, I was feeling tired from too much wine the night before. I was a little down because a blog I had been working on fell through. Usually, those things would slow down my running, but they didn’t. Instead, I was quick, light and strong. I ran three miles so effortlessly (from Surfside to Bal Harbour,) I couldn’t help but smile as I neared the jetty. It was a big accomplishment for me.
Before my bout with GBS (Guillain-Barre’ Syndrome) I used to be an avid runner, but battling my illness had left my body so weak and so frail it would take years before I could exercise again. After intense physical therapy, I worked my way up to walking on the path, then a light jog and now this: a spirited run. It was a true milestone that made me extremely proud and genuinely happy.
To celebrate my accomplishment (even though I didn’t have much time,) I allowed myself the privilege of walking to the end of the jetty to enjoy the view and breathe in the fresh sea air. If you’re familiar with the area, you know how exquisite it is. For me, it’s not only one of the most beautiful spots in Miami; it’s one of the most breathtaking views in the world.
It’s where the bay and the ocean merge together and the large concrete pier, known as the jetty, snakes its way out into the water, allowing tourists, locals and seasoned fishermen to take advantage of the surroundings. On the north side of the jetty the ever-changing (usually moody) waves crash endlessly against dozens of dark, heavy rocks. On the south side, the beach is pretty, pristine and dazzles with white sand and crystal blue water. Just before the beach, outlining the entire area, is a thick patch of tall wheat-colored, wild brush. It gives the shoreline a Hamptons-esque kind of feel.
As I blissfully made my way down the concrete path, suddenly (and for no apparent reason,) I grew anxious and worried. Then as if someone whispered a warning in my ear, I stopped to turn around. What happened next seemed to unfold in slow motion. Just as I looked over my right shoulder, an older gentleman, who was standing on the very edge of the south side of the jetty (right by the brush,) started to lose his balance. His body twisted strangely and he fell so unbelievably quick and hard it took my breath away.
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