Cec and I were whale-watching in Alaska, little H— in tow. Cec has talked about Alaska more or less every day we’ve known each other. It is, unquestionably, her favorite place on earth. And now, we were finally going. She was brimming with pure joy. And to top it all off, we were whale-watching.
Cec turns to me and grabs my arm, “I LOVE whales.”
I chuckle and my eyes crinkle.
“I know, babe, I know.”
We stand next to each other, holding hands, and looking over the side of the ship we were on. H— was settled in one of those carriers on my chest, so she was only going over if I went over. Safety first.
We’d been out for awhile and had seen some fish and birds and stunning views of the ocean and Alaskan coast, but so far, no whales.
But up ahead, it looked like something was breaking through the ocean surface.
“Cec, what’s that?”
Cec looks attentively, recalling all her hours of Planet Earth and other nature documentaries.
“Gotta be whales,” she says confidently.
“Pretty sure, that’s a humpback whale…wait, look, there’s more!”
We looked intently at the scene in front of us. A pod of the humpback whales was surrounded by something else. Smaller and sleeker. One leaped through the air. An orca! The pod of orcas was moving menacingly towards the pod of humpbacks.
Cec was turning from the whales to me, her mouth and eyes wide with shock, intensity, and horror.
The humpback whales had a baby whale with them. One of them pulled forward and was clearly the leader of the pod.
“The All-Mother!” Cec cried out.
The orcas began attacking the humpback whales, trying to break through the pod to get at the baby.
I clutch H— tighter and Cec comes over and places one arm around me and one on H— as we look out at the whales, riveted, unable to look away.
It was looking grim for the humpbacks. The pod was being decimated by the orcas, as they moved closer and closer to the baby. Suddenly the All-Mother got into action.
She was fierce.
She swam from orca to orca and used Her huge tail to slap the orcas. She beat them back and knocked them aside with Her head. Almost single-handedly She took charge and saved the child—Her child?—from the attacking orcas.
We were awestruck at the display of pure, maternal power.
The All-Mother nuzzled the child. An outpouring of warmth and comfort. I felt the tension leave my body, and I just look at H— with relief and wonder at her existence. Cec and I look at each other, sharing the moment together.
We begin talking, trying to process what we just saw.
I turn away from the whales, Cec is still half-watching over my shoulder.
H— starts fussing a bit, so I try to move around some, walking around the deck, giving some bounce, hoping to calm her down.
“Babe, Conor, babe. You’re not going to believe this.”
“What? What happened?”
“The whales. The WHALES. They talked to me.”
“How?” I reply, somewhat incredulously.
“Their song. It was for me. Somehow, just for me. Like, She started singing and I knew what She was saying. Or at least, I felt it.”
“Well, what did She say?”
“I can’t quite put it into words. Something about me having the strength to fight for H— when the time comes?”
I looked back out over the ocean, watching the pod of whales swim away. As I watch, I could’ve sworn the All-Mother leaped out of the ocean, flipped, looked me dead in the eyes, winked, and splashed back down before swimming away.
I turn to Cec.
“Of course you do.”
We pull each other close, looking out over the Pacific.
The humpbacks swim away, their song ringing faintly over the ocean.