By Susan Delucia
I’ve only been seriously beachcombing for almost two years, but I have always included my family and friends in notifications of any extraordinary beach finds. My niece, Stacie Rae, a registered critical care flight nurse for Guardian Flight in Juneau, Alaska, was my biggest fan. She was the adventurer in my life and many times I felt like I lived through her amazing escapades as she left no stone unturned.
Susan deLucia (left) and my adventurer, Stacie Rae Morse BSN, CEN, CCRN (right)
Sometimes I would ask her to check her beach destinations for possible beachcombing sites, and she would oblige with a discovery of a piece of pottery and a great story. Though she was an avid fisherman, she would always take time for me and my desire to find new places to beachcomb. I always stressed marbles were the ultimate find and when I would find one, I’d photograph it and text it to her. She loved getting the photos and loved that my beach adventures brought me such pleasure.
In the late afternoon of January 29, 2019, I was on a local beach, which I frequented often and where marbles are virtually nonexistent. As I was looking down at the ground, I saw a piece of green, which led me to uncover a nicely worn green, brown, and white marble. I knew instantly it was a day to be noted, but no idea what that simple marble would come to mean to me.
At 6:10 pm that same night, Guardian Flight N13LY failed to arrive at its Kake, Alaska, destination. There was a catastrophic plane crash and Stacie Rae, pregnant with her first child, the pilot, and flight paramedic all perished at sea. That simple marble from that day, I know was a gift from the sea to help me heal from this devastating and life-altering event. Though Stacie didn’t see the photo from that day’s finds, she’s with me in spirit during all of my beach hunting. I have taken on a new tradition of writing a message on a rock and throwing it in any water way that my adventures take me to. I still photograph every marble I discover. Most of all, I cherish the pottery piece she found for me from her favorite beach in Juneau, Alaska.
The beach will always be a peaceful, healing place for me where the waterways of Frederick Sound, Alaska (near Kake), connect with the waters of the Pacific Northwest. Where simple beachcombing finds with the colorful beauty of days past fill our spirits with the wonder of what the sea holds in store for us on our next beachcombing adventure. Enjoy every day you’re able to go to the beach and be thankful for the beauty that surrounds us.
NEVER FORGET N13LY
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine January/February 2020 issue.