Mom is always trying to think of new things to do that are exciting and fun, but sometimes she gets more than she bargained for. We were in Hawaii and preparing to go for an unusual scuba diving excursion. We were all scuba certified and had been on some beautiful dives, but this dive would be different. We were headed to the backside of Molokini Crater. We had already explored the inside of the crater, which was clear and warm water all the way to the floor 100 feet below. But the backside of the crater had a floor that dropped to 360 feet and is only supposed to be explored by experienced divers.
Our guide explained the dangers of a wall dive. We were to stay in pairs, obeying the buddy-system, and should plan on hovering at about 80 feet. I thought of all the unknown creatures that might be swimming below me in the dark void. Mom thought of falling into the deep and being crushed by the pressure. I kept my eyes roving below to make sure I wouldn’t get caught unaware should some sea monster decide to surface. Mom kept her thumb on the button to add air to her BC (kind of like a life vest that you fill with air to rise, or release air to sink). She was determined to make sure she had enough air that she wouldn’t sink into the abyss.
We all entered the water, paired with our buddies (Mom and Dad were buddies), and began our descent. Still afraid of dropping uncontrollably, Mom tried to descend very slowly, but started dropping faster than she was comfortable with. In fact, when she realized that she was actually below the rest of us, Mom got nervous and added a little air to her BC. There is a slight delay between inflating air and becoming buoyant. Mom knew this, but it seemed to be taking too long, and a little bit of panic took over her thinking. She inflated more air, and then more.
Before she realized what was happening, Mom was on her way to the surface, and Dad had no clue. Dad knew the dangers of the dive and was concerned for the whole family. He was diligent about looking around and counting all the bodies to make sure we were all safe. However, between looking after everyone’s safety and looking at the wall with the beautiful sea life, Dad took his eye off of Mom for only a moment. That’s all it took for her to disappear. All the way to the surface, Mom yelled and screamed, hoping someone would hear her, but no one did.
It didn’t take long for Dad to notice that his partner was missing. His first thought was that she had dropped into the deep unknown. Always very logical, he looked around for her bubbles, figuring that he could locate her by them. No bubbles. It did occur to him that she might have gone up, but he wasn’t going to take the chance of not looking below first. He found our guide, signaled that Mom was missing, and both men began to search. Dad sunk to 100 feet and peered into the depths as far as he could see. No Mom. He knew he couldn’t safely dive much deeper, but Dad took a deep breath and dropped as far as he could. Scanning the area, he still didn’t see Mom. Before his lungs could take no more, he glanced at his depth regulator and saw he was at 180 feet. Poor Dad. He thought he might have lost Mom for good.
Meanwhile, Mom surfaced near enough to the boat that they spotted her pretty quickly and threw her a life-preserver. The rest of us surfaced, just as Mom was climbing into the boat, safe and sound. Dad berated Mom for scaring him, and Mom berated Dad for not noticing his partner rising away from him, and for not hearing her yelling under water. In the end, we all had to just laugh. It wouldn’t be a family vacation without Mom doing something silly.