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How These Shells Became a Coincidental Sign from Above

The special beach tokens reminded her of love and second chances.
COURTESY CATHERINE NEARY-KOMIR

The sun was just beginning to rise over the horizon, painting the water red and gold. I smiled, squeezing Steve’s hand in mine. The scene was breathtaking. Watching the sunrise on the beach was the perfect way to start our honeymoon—our second honeymoon.

Steve and I had been together for 24 years before we separated. At that point, divorce had seemed the only solution to resolving our differences. Though not everyone in my life felt that way. “I know you two will get back together,” one of my friends had said after the divorce papers were signed.

“That will never happen,” I’d scoffed.

Well, never say never!

Three years after the divorce, our children wanted to throw me a big party for my fiftieth birthday. Of course they wanted to invite their father. I agreed. The split had been amicable, after all. But I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed his company at the party. I realized how right we seemed together. How much I’d missed him. How much I still loved him.

We started seeing each other more frequently, spending time together, just talking freely without old hurts and defensiveness getting in the way. After some deep soul searching and prayer, we decided to give “us” another shot.

We remarried in a small ceremony with only our grown children in attendance. Afterward, Steve and I took off to our favorite spot, Cape May, New Jersey. We had vacationed there with our family going back 20 years. It felt like a return to old times…but different too.

As the sun rose on our first full day, I prayed that Steve and I would get everything right this time, and for good. We walked along the shoreline, our feet in the water. We weren’t walking for long when I spotted something in the sand, just out of reach of the waves. It was a seashell! A whelk with a shiny, smooth interior. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen on this beach before. I was used to finding clam, oyster and mussel shells in the past. Nothing this big. And the shell was perfect—no chips or imperfections.

“Look!” cried Steve, pointing. Just a few feet away was another whelk shell. Like the first, it was whole and unblemished but a little smaller and pinkish in color, in contrast to the other shell, which was larger and darker. But they seemed like they belonged together. A perfect match. We took them back to our room, amazed at our find.

The next morning, we got up early and hurried out to the beach to catch the sunrise again. “What if we find more shells today?” Steve asked, teasing.

I laughed. “That will never happen.”

Well, never say never!

We strolled in the opposite direction that morning, toward the cove, the early morning sun warming our backs. We had been walking for only a few minutes when I saw them up ahead. I blinked in disbelief. Two perfectly formed whelk shells. As we got closer, I could see that they closely resembled the pair we’d found the day before—one larger and dark in color and the other smaller and pinkish, just a few feet apart.

I stood there, stunned. The probability that they were there in the first place, that Steve and I had been the beachcombers who found them—two sets of shells—on the honeymoon of our second marriage was…well, infinitesimal.

But I don’t believe in coincidences. I know it was a sign that Steve and I were on the right track. And whenever I look at the whelk shells that sit in our happy home, I’m reminded of love and second chances. And to never say never!

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