This morning Charlie had to participate in a training session for work, so I took the kids to Sea World for a few hours.
Since a number of schools let students out for summer break last week, and the nightly firework show began this past weekend, Sea World was a mad house on this beautiful Monday morning. There were buses dropping people off and lines were already forming outside many of the exhibits and rides by 10 AM.
Our first stop was to Wild Arctic, which houses the walrus, polar bears ... and quite possibly my all-time favorite marine mammal, the beluga whale.
While we were standing below the water line, behind the thick glass, I noticed that there were several people within the beluga whale tank dressed in wetsuits, clearly participating in one of the "behind the scenes" programs that Sea World offers.
The behind-the-scene participants were standing on a small ledge in shallow water and I could tell that the whale trainers were talking to them ... probably about beluga whale habits and habitat and migration and diet ... while they flipped fish to the whales and patted their heads and bodies.
My four children were all on foot and when the triplets ran to stand on a step at the observation window, Henry was toddling about. I picked him up and placed him on the small step next to his siblings - and through the water - at least 50 feet away, he could see the beluga whale bodies that were partially submerged below the water.
"WHALE!" he yelled out.
The word no sooner left his 23-month old mouth and one of the beluga whales that had been eating handfuls of fish, dove below the water and swam - as fast as I've ever seen a beluga whale swim - directly to the glass window where my children were standing. It pushed it's nose against the window in to the exact location where Henry was holding his outstretched hand.
Then, it stayed there.
It stayed there long enough for me to grab my camera, turn off the flash and take several pictures. It stayed there long enough for all the other visitors that were in the observation area to come running over and stand behind my children and exclaim, "WOW! THAT IS SO COOL!" and "WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT!!"
The beluga whale continued to push it's head in to the glass - while my children laughed - and then, it turned and rolled against the glass window directly in front of us, for several more seconds, before swimming around the tank twice and rejoining the behind-the-scene participants and it's bucket of fish.
I've been to Sea World no less than 50 times in the past few years and I've seen how friendly the beluga whales are. I know that these are social creatures. But I have never seen anything like what I saw, today. So while I stood there speechless and feeling like we had just experienced something truly amazing, my daughter Elizabeth looked up at me and said, "That was my grandmother."
"What?" I asked.
"That was my grandmother!" she repeated.
"Your grandmother?" I inquired, incredulously. "What do you mean, THAT was your grandmother?"
She looked at me very matter-of-factly and said, "That was my Grandma Jeanne."
My jaw dropped open before I asked, "Your Grandma Jeanne is a beluga whale?"
She laughed and said, "Yes. Henry called her. But now she's gone back to the clouds. God didn't know what to do with her!"
While I stood there pondering the significance of this for a moment, William said, "She just wanted to meet us." And then Carolyn added, "So we had a meeting."
Pardon the pun, but was this just a fluke? And by fluke, I mean a chance occurrence. (Not either of the two horizontally flattened divisions of the tail of a whale.)
Or, was this a true spiritual encounter?
As for now, I'm planning to categorize this post under my "Soul Food" label. But short of contacting a psychic or Shirley Maclaine, I think I need some insight.
I welcome any explanations for this experience.
Your interpretation begins in...