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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Before You Go: Reaching the Other Shore

CRL columnist John Gray's newest short story on not being afraid to chase your dreams.

Jessica Pearson graduated from college and attended a party in her parents’ backyard shortly after the ceremony. A few friends stopped by with their families for what was a cozy gathering filled with hot dogs, lemonade and laughter.

Sitting on her bed later that night, she opened her cards, most of them filled with cash. Noticeably absent was a gift from her parents, but Jessica wasn’t surprised. After all, they paid for a big chunk of her education, and she told them that was gift enough. She piled the bills neatly into a small stack on her dresser.

A week later, Jessica’s father asked her to meet him on the shore of the lake not far from their home. It was a spot Jessica knew well because, being on the swim team in school, it was here she practiced and built up her endurance.

The lake was two and a half miles across from shore to shore, with a bright orange buoy popping out of the water one mile from where Jessica began her swim. When she trained, she would swim the mile out to the buoy, touch it and turn around, returning to where she started. It was a two-mile swim and by the time she climbed out of the water she was always exhausted. The teenager dreamed of swimming across the entire lake someday, but she feared she couldn’t make it the full two and a half miles.

The day she met her father at the shore, he had a small boat waiting. She assumed they were going for a ride, but Dad said no. He then explained that he wanted to slowly glide the boat next to her and talk as she swam. Jessica thought it was an odd request, but she loved her father and told him sure.

As she swam across the lake, talking to her dad, he kept assuring her that when they reached the buoy, he would tell her it was time to turn around.

Chatting with her father, Jessica lost track of the time and eventually said, “How far are we? We should have reached the buoy by now.”

She was shocked when her father replied, “Oh, you passed the buoy a quarter mile back.”

Jessica stopped, and said in panicked voice, “But I only swim two miles. What am I supposed to do now?”

Her father replied, “Simple. You keep going. Swim for the other shore.”

He then explained that it was the same exact distance if she turned around and went back, so she might as well keep going.

Jessica asked, “What if I can’t make it?”

He smiled and replied, “What do you think the boat is for?”

Jessica put her head down and swam with all her heart, eventually reaching the other shore—pride beaming from her face.

After climbing into the boat, they started back and her father said, “Did you really think I wouldn’t give you a graduation gift? This was it.”

Seeing Jessica was confused, he said, “Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams.”

He squeezed her hand, adding, “Have faith. Always go for the other shore.”

With tears in her eyes, Jessica asked, “And what if I can’t make it?”

 Her father hugged her, answering, “You have your mom and I, and your siblings. We are the rescue boat, and we are always by your side, just like today.”

When Jessica got home, she saw the stack of money still waiting on the dresser. She smiled, knowing her best graduation gift was found at the center of a chilly lake, her father’s voice encouraging her to reach the other shore.      

John Gray
John Gray
John Gray is an Emmy-winning journalist and writer. In addition to his 32 years of television experience, John is the author of three children's books and two novels. He is married with three children. He and his lovely wife Courtney have five dogs, three of them are rescues with special needs. They make their quiet home in Rensselaer County.

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