We’d walked three miles to get there, so by the time we reached the sand and the water I was completely exhausted. I collapsed to the sand and stared out at the waves and the clouds.
But Noah just stood there, looking out at the grey water, watching the water lap at the shore, his chest rising and falling, eyes shining with moisture. He blinked it back but said nothing.
After awhile, when I’d caught my breath and felt like I wasn’t at risk of passing out anymore, I stood and walked over to him.
He looked at me briefly, then back out at the ocean. “Not really.” His voice was unsteady.
I stood close by him, wondering if I should touch him or just listen. I held back.
“Jordan?” he addressed me finally.
I nodded, watching him carefully but saying nothing.
“I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever be okay again.”
His eyes glistened with the tears that wanted to, needed to fall. I tried to convey in my gaze how much I understood, how much I cared. I didn’t know what to say.
He let out a strange noise, a kind of half-sob that was just the cusp of what was waiting behind his fierce reserve.
And at that point I knew that words were not the answer. I reached out and pulled him against me, gathering him close and cradling him in my arms.
“I know, man. I know.” I said softly. “She was your little sister.”
And he broke. His forehead rested on my shoulder and his body heaved with silent sobs as the tears coursed over his cheeks, wetting my face and my shirt, combining with the salt water spray from the sea.
Noah’s little sister had killed herself a week earlier. She’d been bi-polar and stopped taking her meds. Noah had found her.
He was probably right. He might never be okay after that. But I would stand by him, with him, and help him any way I could.
“It’s going to be okay,” I lied. “You’re going to be okay.”