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“WAITING TO INHALE”
I waited to inhale for 1,286 days. That's how long it's been since my last dive.
I waited through 3-1/2 years of visiting in-laws and spending weekends in landlocked hotels. I waited. And I planned.
Then I saw my chance: A 10-day vacation to Florida. In a previous life, that would have meant at least 20 ocean dives at a dedicated resort. Maybe up to 40 if I spent it on a liveaboard out of the Keys.
But that was during my single life . . . before I married a non-diver, before I helped create a beautiful Little Mermaid named Sara, and before I ever entertained the idea of what some fearingly call a "family" vacation.
Though we were always less than an hour from the beckoning Atlantic, our 3-year-old daughter was the focus of this two-stop 6,000-mile getaway.
At Club Med, we splashed in the pool, marveled at the circus performers, watched the water skiers in the river, and basked in the balmy weather. For these reasons, this wasn't planned as a diving vacation.
Though the Club offered a daily shuttle bus to a nearby ocean beach, and though there were seven dive shops listed in the Yellow Pages - including "Dixie Divers" - I didn't dive there.
Instead, I read, I swam, I golfed, I relaxed, I ate, I drank, and I enjoyed a much-needed break from a hectic work schedule and relentless deadlines to spend quality time with the two people I love most.
During the second leg of the trip, we journeyed to Walt Disney World. There, we let our daughter shake hands with Mickey Mouse, rub noses with Goofy, experience a 3-D Movie, even a live performance of "Beauty & The Beast".
And there, finally, I did have time for one dive. It was in the 6-million gallon Living Seas aquarium. And it was well worth the wait - over 65 species and thousands of marine creatures - complete with sharks, turtles, groupers, eagle rays, Disneyized artificial coral, and more.
This dive was especially gratifying because I got to swim to the Observation Deck window where my wife and daughter were searching for me. Being able to share the thrill of a little girl's excitement at seeing her father made this experience extra special. Since then, my daughter remembers the dive by announcing: "My Daddy swims with fishes".
Now, back to routine family life and work again, I'm patiently waiting to inhale on my next family vacation. Six months from now, I'll plan a trip with a more extensive dive schedule. And I know that as my daughter gets older, I'll be able to dive more frequently. Hopefully, some day, with her.
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