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The last three words I said to my husband were Aye Aye Captain. Of course, I had no way of knowing that those words would be the last words I would ever say to him. And truth be told, I was being snarky when I said it too. On that day, our lives were complicated by a decision that changed us all.
Back story, my husband loved to boat. So much so that I’d often joke to my friends that I was now a boat widow. He spent every moment he could taking the boat out. And our friends loved to go out boating. So did our daughters so in as much as it was not my favorite thing to do, I went along.
That Fateful Day
It was a beautiful day in August when we planned to go out. Our daughters invited friends to join. We dropped anchor about 100 feet offshore. Some of the girls were sunbathing while others were enjoying lunch. He proceeded to take the jet ski out and pull some of the girls on a tube.
I will say that when he was pulling away, he firmly stated “No one goes in the water until I am back on the boat.” Several of the girls on the boat were strong swimmers and on their high school team. Some of the girls were over 21 so his comment took me by surprise. I proceeded to question him at which he stated, “My boat, my rules” and that is how my saluting him and stating “Aye Aye Captain” originated.
The Next Moments
At the time, I did not know how strong the currents were. From a distance, I could see him jump off his jet ski, and immediately he was in distress. I am going to skip the details except for the fact a civilian boater did come to help him as well as the coast guard. In my heart of hearts, as the coast guard sped past me on the boat, I knew he was gone. But with me on a large boat, unable to drive it into the marina, I had no choice but to stay behind with our guests waiting to be towed in.
Two hours later, we were back on land and racing to the hospital. When you enter ER and the person stationed there says “we’ve been waiting for you,” it reaffirmed that he was gone. A social worker came to deliver the news.
Trying to Make Sense of The Day
Over the years, I have relived every moment of that day to see if anything else could have been done differently. I’ve gone for counseling, I’ve meditated, I’ve turned to faith and there is no making sense of the day. It happened and in a blink of an eye, I became a widow at 52 years.
My last words to him were said sarcastically. In a strange way, I think he would have loved being called captain. My daughters and I had to learn quickly how to navigate the rough seas that lay ahead in the next few days, weeks, and months. But we did find a way to make it suck a little less and enjoy some smoother sailing in the years ahead.
I’ll share my views and some things I learned along the way. One of those was our decision as to how to commemorate his life.