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The diving community lost a member yesterday. He was apparently a very experienced diver, but was doing an extra deep dive, down to 250 feet, where many things could have gone wrong.

I really feel for his family and friends, and I hope nothing like this ever happens to me, John, our friends, or any of our students, past or present.

EDIT: The name didn’t immediately ring a bell, but according to John, I had met this guy several times, and had even dove in a group of people that he was part of. Doubly sad.

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You know what breaks my heart faster than anything ever?

It’s that hiccuping, gasping sob as Amy tries to hold back her tears long enough to say hello to me on the phone before she breaks down.

When she’s feeling down and lost, she calls me. And usually only gets out “Hi, how are you?” before she loses her composure.

And even after my moment of panic–what’s wrong? is she okay? are my parents okay?–passes, my heart just aches as I listen to her cry over the phone line, from hundreds of miles away, and all I can do is say “It’s okay!” without really knowing what’s wrong or if it really is okay.

Today, it was mostly low self-esteem/confidence leading her to feel that she wasn’t good at her job, that she was just fooling the people that she works with into thinking she’s competent, and that she’ll never make friends in the tiny town she’s just moved to.

This, from a girl with more friends than you can shake a stick at. From the girl that moved 1800 miles away to go to college, and ever after calling me nearly every night crying her freshman year, stuck it out and ended up loving her life in California. From the girl that then moved 3000 to the opposite coast and started over, making new friends and new contacts, with a new job and a new school and a new life plan and a new boy who is, I hope, going to be the love of her life.

She is strong and competent and smart and funny and friendly and organized. She’s good at her job. I know this without even knowing much about her job–simply because the things her job requires are things she excels at. She always makes friends, even if it takes time and effort–she will in this new place, too. And at the end of the year, if she’s still not happy, she can find a new job back out east, near the boy who she has fallen in love with.

I told her all this, and encouraged her to think positively and to choose to feel good about herself and to go see the boy and to come visit me and to call anytime she needs or wants to and to ask people to do things with her in an effort to make friends and to see that she is good at her job. And. And. And.

I don’t know how much of it broke through to her crying on the other end, but eventually the sobs stopped and she even laughed at a joke or two. It will help, until the next time her self-confidence takes a nose dive.

(As a side note, why are girls cursed with such low self-confidence? If there was one thing I could wish for anyone I knew, any daughter of mine, it would be self-esteem and self-confidence. Alas.)

In any case, I think it helped tonight, and it will help for a little while. And her weekend visit to the boy will help even more, I’m sure.

But sooner or later, my phone will ring again, and she’ll start to cry all over again, and my heart will break all over again. Because when that happens, I want nothing more than to maker her life all okay, to hug her and tell her it will get better, and instead, all I can do is hold the phone and talk to her for however long it takes for her to not cry.

That’s what sisters are for, I suppose. And I’ll be there, on the end of the line, however long she needs me.

We went, we mourned, we cried.

We picked up James F and Cara on the way there, and met James M, Greg and numerous other people there. The church was gratifyingly full of people who clearly loved this kid. We saw our friend just before the service started, and although we didn’t get a chance to talk, she waved and knew we were there.

I don’t want to say too much about the service–just that I hope it was what his parents and sister wanted. That in it, they found a measure of peace, a way to say goodbye, or something to comfort them. Hopefully our presence helped my friend in some way.

It made me think that when I die, be it weeks or years or decades from now, I want a party. I want people to celebrate my life, not commemorate my death.

When my cousin died 4 years ago (also in a car accident), we had a ceremony led by my aunt, where lots of people got up and told funny stories or touching stories, or just talked about my cousin. Then, we all sat around and ate his favorite foods, played his favorite games, and talked about him. Although it was still heartbreaking, I left with a sense of peace–I knew he was loved by many, mourned by many, but I also knew we were all together in our remembrance of him.

That’s what I want, should something happen–a party. But whatever it is, more than anything, I want it to help those I leave behind find peace with the situation.

*****

Thanks so much to all of you for your comments over the last week. They were greatly appreciated.

Also, the Big Boss is doing fine–he’s out of the hospital, but not back at work yet. He’ll likely be on blood thinners the rest of his life. But for now, the immediate crisis is over. Here’s hoping he’ll take care of himself enough that this won’t happen again.

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