David

There is a picture which I adore. It is a photo of David and I standing together in Israel with the expansive Dead Sea as a backdrop. It captures a moment of a perfect day we shared. Because the salt content of the sea is nearly 20%, it is impossible to sink in it or even roll over. People actually sit in it. It is super water. Which is why David, even in his advanced stage of ALS, so loved to be in it. David, who swam nearly every day in Buzzards Bay, even in the dead of winter, had not lost his love for the water. The Dead Sea gets its name because literally nothing can live in it. No fish, sea weed, mollusks, or crustaceans; it is completely devoid of life. So it is ironic that the Dead Sea is believed to have special healing powers, which is why it is visited by the afflicted from all over the world. From a distance there is no way of recognizing David from all of the others floating (or sitting) on the water’s surface. The Sea is the great equalizer and cares not a whit whether or not you have ALS. Maybe that is its power. On the shore, one can see people covering themselves in the holy Dead Sea mud and then purifying themselves in the water. Although one cannot actually swim in the Dead Sea, there is something special about being in it. I always thought that David was crazy for swimming in Buzzards Bay when the air and water temperature were near freezing. He said it made him feel alive. The Dead Sea has that affect on me as well. Andy snapped the photo just as David and I emerged from our therapeutic float. We are both wearing big contented smiles. We are leaning in just a bit towards each other. Along the photos horizon, one can barely discern a vast stretch of undulating pink and purple separating the blue of the sea from that of the sky; the reflected light of the mountains on the Jordanian side of the Sea.

As magnificent as that picture is, it is not my favorite. My favorite picture is taken later that evening. We are sitting at a seaside restaurant in Tel Aviv. We have just completed our dinner along with our fair share of wine and beer. There is still a lot of activity along the boardwalk. There is music in the background merging with the rhythmic swish swish of the roller bladers. However, the photo captures none of that. It is dark and all that is visible is our faces. The Dead Sea had done its magic. It had changed us—and decidedly for the better.