December 6, 2023

The Water Took Him—now it’s Healing Me.

I’ve always been drawn to the water.

My husband was, too.

It was always a place of peace for us. Life could be going sideways but if we were in, on, or near the water, things just felt better.

We both participated in competitive water sports growing up, and it was our path to meeting, growing together, and then getting married in 2001.

In 2012, we lost our beautiful man—my husband, my children’s father—in a drowning accident at our family lake.

The water took him…

I lost him, and felt that I had lost my identity. For a time, I hated the water.

After his sudden and tragic death, my kids and I traveled all over. We explored, surfed a lot, and in general began a long, difficult, painful, yet ultimately beautiful path to healing.

On one of these surf trips, I was stuck on the inside just getting hammered. You see, I’m not a very good surfer. Frustrated, close to tears, emotions of pain and anger and loss and grief all consumed me at once as the power of the ocean remind me of how small I really am.

My son, 16 at the time, came to help me. I remember so clearly this young man, who had just lost his father to the water, coming to me. He calmly said, “Just paddle, Mom. Paddle hard, and when you get tumbled just know you’ll come up…then start paddling again. Come with me, past the break. I promise it will be okay. Just paddle.”

So I did. And eventually, exhausted and at the end of my rope, I finally made it—with my son next to me the whole time.

I sat on the board, felt the swell, watched the waves from the back side, and rested in the peace and beauty of the healing ocean. I cried a bit, all my emotions so present.

I was so thankful for the lesson my young son, even in his own grief, had just shown me. And grateful that my love of the water and draw to the ocean had only become more profound through our loss in it and growth because of it.


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