on trying to keep my head above water
I just, don't even have the words for this spectacular piece. It is poignant and perfect and so true and robust that I had to put it down and finish it hours later - it was such a substantial portrait of liffe that it felt like living it with you. I can't tease apart how I felt as both reader and confidant while reading this, so while I want to just keep praising your talent, i also want to just sit next to you and breathe the grief. Well done.
“What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now forever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind.”
- Intimations of Immortality, by William Wordsworth
This is so powerful and I appreciate the courage to bleed into your writing this way.
Love, love, love this essay.
My mother couldn't scuba dive because she has claustrophobia, and I've never tried but always been curious. But a lot of the things you describe are things I hate struggling against: managing water, steamy glasses, etc. I think I could do okay but if I panicked then I don't think anything would be okay at all -- it's sort of a zero to hundred thing.
PTSD and grief are also a through-line in this conversation but I'll leave it at that....
Extraordinary piece, Sam. You are not just writing ABOUT grief, you are boldly writing OUT the grief directly from your soul and we are experiencing it with you as we read. In sharing the details of the death of your beloved Father and the aftermath, you’ve tapped into the universal -- the devastating sorrow of loss. Thank you for writing this.
"By staying on dry land, I could choose to bring better memories of him to the surface."
Damn... What a precious insight to have... Thank you for sharing this, Sam...
Very beautiful words. I'm glad that you were able to see that it was just one hard moment in a lifetime of wonderful ones.
All the while you were describing your preparation for the dive in the Maldives, I was saying out loud to myself "Don't do it!" I was so relieved when you backed out. Great piece of writing.
Read this with tears in my eyes. I lost my father when his cancer spread to his brain and can relate to so much of what you share here.
Oh gosh, Sam. You'd linked to this post from your new year's one, and I came straight over to read it. Powerful, heartbreaking, brutal and goosepimpling; beautifully, beautifully written; awesome.
I'm so very sorry for your loss.
Sam, this is brilliant and riveting. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us and for letting us in on your journey. Your writing is so raw and real. It hits right to the heart, in the best way. It was nourishing for me to read and witness. <3
What a wonderful gift you gave your father! That to me is the most beautiful part of this story. Being there for him -- with him -- at the end of his life is so hard but you did what you were supposed to do.
Scuba diving. That is not something you have to do! Thank goodness. 💕😊
Beautiful and touching, perfectly written! Thanks for this piece
I know this (very moving) article isn't about scuba diving, but can't resist mentioning that I had my own scuba-diving epiphany on the Red Sea outside Eilat a few years ago. It's a crazy sensation, thinking you're about to die like that, and then very liberating when you finally rip off the wet suit for good and accept your future as a land animal. My rational mind kept repeating how embarrassing it would be to go like that in an utterly pointless exercise that did no good for anyone (if you want pretty fish, buy a screen saver). I kept thrashing as my guide pulled me in by the collar, until he finally let go, and it turned out we were in three feet of water, surrounded by children.
Sam, this was such a moving piece. Thanks for having the guts to share this with us. I love the picture of you with the sea plane -- it celebrates the triumph of finding those small moments of peace.
I loved this essay and the decision you made. I’m sorry what you and your dad went through. I’m glad he’s still with you on the shore.