Like everyone else, I’ve been through good times and bad. Among the best have been my adventures in diving. Among the worst, an incident last spring that brought an end to my diving career. My first scuba gear was a reluctant Christmas present from my parents when I was fifteen, in 1955. My final dive was in the Thousand Islands among close friends associated with Adventure Divers in Peterborough, Ontario, a dive shop, travel agency, and virtual friendship centre where I’ve been a diving instructor for the last few years.
Yesterday afternoon, Pepé and Sherry, who own the shop, co-hosted their annual pig roast and potluck with Marybeth and Dave. Bev and I drove out with mixed feelings. I’m very fond of my diving buddies and have felt pretty low about not diving with them again. We have shared some amazing experiences. These are people who have become important to me in ways difficult to describe. My life has been in their hands at depths of 130 feet, and theirs in mine. However different we may be on the surface, down there our connection is based on intimate and absolute trust.
With thirty or forty close friends gathered round, a presentation was made to mark my untimely transition to non-diver status—as a celebration of the good things we’ve shared, not a lament for what’s been lost. I’m a writer; nothing is ever lost, it just gets turned into fiction. When it was time to leave, I wanted to hug each and every person there. I may have missed a few. Sorry. I’d like to name you all. But if I forgot a single name, I’ll feel bloody miserable. So, I’ll just say thanks. Thank you for the generosity of your affection, for the good times we’ve had in exotic places and in damned cold water close to home, for welcoming me into your special community, for being fun. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.