The island is deserted during the winter months and because of a combination of freezing temperatures and complete absence of tourists, the ferry service from mainland to the island, attractions, hotels, and restaurants all close down. A fact that I’m sure is pointed out on travel guides and brochures, exactly the sort of thing we never buy beforehand. Maybe for this very reason, we ended up staying in a hotel located, not in the scenic Santorini I had on my mind with picture perfect spots, blue domed-churches, quaint white Mediterranean houses, flowers in every imaginable color, and the sapphire waters of the Aegean Sea, but in the opposite side of the island. Don’t take me wrong, it was picturesque yes, but not the white and blue island baking under the sun I had dreamed about.
I was with my husband, right by the windmill, when we crossed paths with an older man. He might’ve had a salt-and-pepper beard, maybe long hair, sad eyes, trembling hands. I don’t know. I don’t remember what he looked like, but I remember why he was in Oia: to spread someone’s ashes. Someone he loved. Someone who loved him and Oia. Like the end of a love triangle. And the man told us all of this after exchanging pleasantries, as if the weight of the ashes were too much for him to bear alone. So he shared the weight of his loss with us, by the windmill, in this impossibly beautiful spot overlooking the Aegean waters. On this day, the sun shone timidly at dawn, but by dusk, the skies took on a flamboyant hue of blue. I squeezed my husband’s hand as the man told us about the ashes. The thought of a life without my partner made the windmill seem wider, taller, incomprehensible. My eyes teared in the December wind as we said goodbye to the man.