WELLFLEET — The waves came in one after another at Newcomb Hollow Beach on Sunday. The sun shone steady on beachgoers enjoying a late summer day in September. The white aprons of waves beckoned surfers.
Nearly two years ago, Arthur Medici came to the same beach to take advantage of the waves. He died after suffering injuries from a shark attack.
But on that day, Sept. 15, the community of beachgoers and surfers and swimmers who were there became a part of Medici’s extended family. On Sunday, many of them gathered for a simple ceremony to dedicate a memorial bench in his honor.
From the bench, you can see down to a wide sea where the beach spreads out to the north and south. You can see the dip in the land that gives Newcomb Hollow its name. It is a place that Medici visited several times.
Medici’s aunt, Marisa Medici, wondered why the 26-year-old would travel all the way from Revere to Wellfleet for the waves. But every time she and other family members have visited the beach since his death, she has come to better understand the pull of the water, the wild, wide beauty of the sea.
“And every time we felt so much love,” she said, speaking of the community that answered the call for help that day two years ago. The people on the beach, including lifeguards and first responders, did what they could to help him.
“Arthur is part of Wellfleet now,” said Heather Doyle, who helped found Cape Cod Ocean Community in the aftermath of Medici’s death.
There were many who wanted to do something to remember Medici. Eventually, Cape Cod Ocean Community raised money to purchase the 8-foot composite bench. One of Medici’s favorite Bible verses from the Gospel of John is inscribed on it.
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live.”
Medici’s fiancee, Emily Rocha, said that on multiple occasions, he would pray to God and ask for words. When he opened the Bible, it fell on that text.
“We believe the word of God is living, and that God can speak to us in the Bible,” she said.
Emily’s sister, Alyssa, said Medici was like an older brother to her.
“He lived life to the fullest,” she said. “He was able to shut out the noise of the world and just be present.”
Selectboard Vice Chairwoman Janet Reinhart called the bench a great memorial to Medici.
“People can come and sit and look at the awesome ocean and think about the meaning of life,” she said. “Arthur’s spirit will always be a part of Wellfleet.”
Marisa Medici called the community that had sprung up since her nephew’s death special.
“We feel the love,” she said, standing beside the gray bench strewn with sunflowers. White and pink rose bouquets stood on one side of the bench, an orchid on the other.
“He felt you guys were special,” she said. “Thank you for your love and support.”
Emily Rocha said she and her family have no misgivings about the beach where her fiance died.
“He was doing what he loved,” she said. “People should not be afraid to come here.”
Several people watched Sunday’s ceremony quietly from a distance. Children played in the parking lot. A surfer carried his surfboard up from the beach.
The sunflowers were Medici’s favorite.
“Take the flowers and do what you feel inclined to do,” Doyle said to those gathered. One woman took a long-stemmed flower and walked down to the beach.
Follow Denise Coffey on Twitter: @DeniseCoffeyCCT.