Love Like Zeuf!

By Sally Smith-Weymouth
Photos by Charlie Witmer

Where do I start...such an abundance of love and joy has filled my life these past three weeks!

First things first. Three weeks ago, I went for a job interview and got the job! Started it on September 30th. No big deal, except we were to be out of town the weekend before and we had hoped to come home on Monday the 30th. Oh well.....

Our trip to visit our friends down south was not the usual fun and frivolity that usually takes place on such adventures. This time it was a trip to celebrate the life of the father of our close family friends. While on this trip, I found out that my dear friend Zeuf Hesson, who has cancer, was planning a celebration of her own life - one she would attend! Zeuf is not one to do things the conventional way and she was not about to be left out of her own life’s celebration! I had no doubt this would be the event of a lifetime!

On top of the new job and two life celebrations, I already had plans for a much anticipated reunion of my dear friends Meri, Claudia, and Paula — Sisters of the Sand — which now fell on the same day as Zeufie’s celebration. The experience of all of these events combined over a matter of eight days left me feeling so full of love and joy words do not do it justice but here goes. 

After the formal life celebration of our friends’ father, the family convened at their long-time family beach house. While the task at hand was somber, I don’t believe that word exists in this family’s vocabulary — a sign hangs from the rafters of the living room stating “Kindly restrain your enthusiasm.” Which is a joke of sorts to this family as they possess nothing but enthusiasm for anything they do in life. 

Top priority on the schedule was to get in the water and catch a few waves before attending to the spreading of their father’s ashes. The sun was brilliant, water warm, and dolphins were keeping us company. We surfed for a couple of hours, frolicking in the small beach break in front of the house before heading in. As the sun began to set, the family siblings gathered on the sand and each took a turn sending their father’s ashes into the golden orange light of the setting sun. After this very private moment, and true to form, the brothers decided their dad would want them to surf again, and so they did! The sky was clear as the fiery orange ball sank into the sea, casting it’s bright brilliance across the ocean’s surface, leaving the surfers in black silhouette as they paddled for waves. In their dad’s parlance: “Super!”

The love and positive vibe of that weekend sent me home ready to start my new job. The week flew by and soon it was Friday — the night of my husband Doug’s first art show at the Firefly Coffeehouse here in Santa Cruz — and soon my friends Paula, Meri, and Claudia would arrive to help us celebrate the fabulous show! True to Silicon Valley traffic on a Friday afternoon, it was slow-and-go from Mountain View to 17, but when I arrived at the Firefly my friends were already there and we hugged and laughed and visited until it was time to close. Afterwards, we stayed with Paula at her geodesic dome in the redwoods — a perfect place for rest and reflection. But rest was not on our agenda as we stayed up until almost 3 a.m. talking and laughing until our ribs were sore and our voices hoarse.

The next morning, after a late breakfast, we loaded up our gear and headed to the beach for Zeuf’s paddle out. We were met by hundreds of friends as we walked from our parking spot to 36th Avenue. The past 20 years of my life I have lived in this community that has grown and matured into a community of people with a deep spiritual connection to one another and Mother Ocean. A connection that resonated with all of us this weekend as we came together to honor the life of our dear friend.

Zeuf’s influence on our community runs deep and it was very apparent on Saturday, October 5, under hot, sunny skies and a lovely south swell rolling in from across the sea. We stood close together holding hands and hugging, as we listened to friends take turns expressing their love for Zeufie. When everyone who wanted to had a turn to speak, with tears streaming from our eyes but huge smiles on our faces, we turned and headed down the stairs to the beach to paddle out in the traditional fashion of surfers celebrating the life of a loved one. 

Reaching the bottom of the stairs, I looked up and saw a macking set come through and I thought, uh oh! But waiting until the last set wave rolled in, I began to paddle out, making it out without getting worked. I felt like I was channeling Zeuf’s determination and fearlessness as I realized these waves were not that big and I could paddle fast enough to get all the way out before the next set. Zeuf is with me like that in situations where I let doubt or fear creep in. 

In the meantime, Zeuf picked up her paddle board and paddled out under her own power. Bedecked with layer upon layer of scented Hawaiian leis, she made her way through the crowd. With everyone surrounding her, she expressed her gratitude for this amazing day. Two of the surfers who paddled out sang spiritual songs at Zeuf’s request, and the rest of us joined in the singing. We tossed our leis and flowers at Zeuf, splashed water into the air, and then we paddled en masse to the lineup and caught waves to celebrate the life of this most important woman in our community. 

I’ve never seen or heard of anything like this in my life. The emotions were high as many of us on the beach reconnected with old friends and made new ones too. I sought out my Sisters of the Sand and we headed back to the car, as there was much more community to be had between the four of us. 

Later that evening, as we all reflected on the day, our spirits were high as we ate and drank and danced the night away. We all resolved to not let so much time go by before we see each other again. We committed to a quarterly “board” meeting, and we will be seeing each other more often. 

When I returned home on Sunday, I was exhausted but at the same time pumped full of energy from the joy and love that was shared last weekend and the weekend before. I told my husband all about the reunion of the Sisters of the Sand and as I began crying, so did he — the emotion of love and connection was so strong and so good! 

I will stop here and leave you with these parting words: When someone asks you how you are doing, say, “I’m super, just super!” like our friends’ dad. And on a daily basis, love/live like Zeuf!!! 

Sally Smith-Weymouth is the owner of the legendary and newly reborn Paradise Surf, and resides in Santa Cruz, CA.
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