I love salt water fish, having grown up on the National Geographic specials featuring Jacques Cousteau as my underwater guide to all that was mysterious and interesting. Snorkeling was one step removed from scuba diving in my mind. Enjoying extended time underwater exploring the reef, seeing the fish, maybe spotting a turtle…. Heaven! I was so excited about this part of the trip!
I was also terrified.
Back in those days before my LASIK surgery, my eyesight was so bad that I wore glasses all the time. I used contacts as well but knew that one drop of water would cause them to seize to my eye like they were coated with superglue. So my snorkeling adventure took place with me being somewhat blind.
Even with this limitation, I still enjoyed it. Husband #2 held my hand as we paddled around. He led the way to the school of fish that I couldn’t see from afar. He described the colors and shapes of things I couldn’t see when we came up for air. I never felt more grateful to another person for being my eyes.
The snorkel tour loaded us up for the second part of our adventure. This time we motored away from the shallow, warm waters of the reef environment to the colder, darker edge of the continental shelf. For those of you who slept thorough your Geography class, the continental shelf is the underwater edge of land that surrounds the exposed section of the continent. Sea level over the continental shelf is relatively shallow. Once you cross the edge of the continental shelf, the ocean floor drops away quickly and the depth can be 13,000 feet or more.
Swimming over the edge of the shelf and literally looking into the abyss was scary for me. Ever since watching the movie Jaws, I’ve been secretly afraid to swim in water I can’t see the bottom of. Thank you, Steven Spielberg…it’s still one of my favorite movies of all time.
Here I was, dangling over the edge of nothingness, watching the sunlight disappear into a chasm where I couldn’t see the bottom. The cold, deep ocean water was pushing up from the unknown depths and I felt completely exposed to the ageless creatures that could peer up from the darkness and see my seal-like shaped silhouette floating along the surface.
And, yet, there he was…Husband #2 holding my hand. Making sure that I wasn’t alone, giving me his silent strength in my underwater scary moment.
Today, Husband #2 is gone and I do feel like I’m swimming in deep, uncharted waters of a pending divorce where the ocean floor is far below me. Instead of imagining monsters with teeth, I tell myself that I will survive.
And I hold my own hand.