When they had bitten their nails to the moons and their worries lay in clumps on the floor, he figured out where she was. He told them all to stop worrying, got in his car, and retraced her sidewalk steps until the road turned to sand, the land to saltwater.
She was sitting on the black-brown jetty rocks where the surf broke to mist and the gulls hovered on the wind. She stared at the horizon as if waiting for ocean to rise and consume the warm land. She didn't look when he called her, walking on the balls of his feet, balancing on the jagged jetty stone edges.
When he crouched next to her he asked her to come back with him before saying hello. Before reminding her they still loved her. The world still needed her.
He realized his mistake when she said, "He took it from me. Bastard stole my ocean."
There was a flat spot on the stone beside her so he sat. She pulled away from his touch so he kept from her, doing his best to keep the platitudes and insistence bottled up inside him with the fear. They were all afraid. Now mostly for her.
After a very long time and the sun disappearing below the line between sea and sky, she said, "When I was a little girl the ocean seemed like forever. It was so damned big--the biggest thing I could see all at once. I felt so small and wonderful. I came back here. It was the only thing I could think that would fix it. But now I can't get it back. I look at the waves and there's nothing at all. Even this. He took even this."
Tears drained from the corners of her eyes and she accepted his arm around her shoulders. This wasn't going to be easy for any of them. Nothing that he could construct in terms of words would help, so he held her and offered some small warmth to the soul alone in that damp wind.
"Did you see this?" she said, when she could speak again. She pulled a note out of her pocket and handed it to him. It was a page from a magazine, an ad for a car on one side and an article about theology on the other. The words were written in the margin.
He read the first line and could go no further. The privileged correspondence between husband and made him self-conscious--especially because he knew these were the last.
He wished she'd never shown it to him. Now it would be something he'd never forget. His brother knew what he was doing, what was going to happen. He wrote: "You'll have to go on without me."
She said, "The Coast Guard found it on board when they found the Cygnus drifting. I keep expecting to see him out there, treading water or floating on a piece of driftwood. I can't look out there without thinking if I sit here here long enough I'll find him."
When he gave her back the paper, she tore it to small pieces and committed them to the breeze. They swirled and tumbled only to be crushed by the surf.
"Why do people do things like this?" she asked him. "Didn't I love him enough? How come I wasn't enough?"
"It's not your fault," he answered. "There was always something pulling him. Some people, they just have something that makes them hate their mortality, you know? They're always trying to find something that might not exist--just because nobody convinces them it doesn't."
"But I never wanted anything else," she said. "Stupid, selfish bastard."
She stood up in the wind and yelled, her voice hoarse and cracking, "You made me love you."
When it got too dark to see the horizon, he led her off the rocks, knowing his brother was adrift in the endless cool deep. He'd taken the ocean from all of them, and now it was no wider or deeper than the stains of their tears on the sidewalk.
Thanks to hamster bong for the inspiration via song