Life is Learning How to Adapt
Yesterday, I endured the lost of my mother. She has been battling neurological Lyme’s Disease for the past decade. There are no words to describe what I am going through right now, but I know she is finally at peace. I wanted to share the speech, that was so gracefully read on my behalf at Celebrate Women Divers Day 2019, because my mother taught me so much about life, and how my experiences can hopefully put someone else at ease, or even inspire strength through hardship. Over the next week I will be spending with my family and friends, adjusting and adapting, because that is life. You learn to find strength to move on but never forget and cherish the amazing memories you’ve been blessed with. I want to thank everyone who has been there for myself and my family, and to please respect our privacy during this tough time.
“If I were to tell you I am sorry for missing such a great occasion, a day bringing together groups of friends and strangers, becoming one big scuba family, with a common passion of experiencing our oceans, along with food, diving, and fun, to celebrate the great feats of women divers, it would be a lie. Sorry is a word that is just thrown around too casually in our society, taking away from its intended meaning. I am not sorry because I am currently with my mother, during her final moments in this world. At the age of 59, she has been fighting for over ten years, an up-hill battle with neurological Lyme’s Disease, and on Thursday, I had to make the hardest decision of my life, to place her into hospice care. The easiest way to describe her symptoms is by saying she has severe dementia, but it is much worse than words can describe. It is not having any control of your mind or body, but she never lost her spirit. She was a fighter and the strongest woman I have ever known. An unfortunate series of extreme events led for her condition to take a toll for the worse, and that is why my father and I had to make the decision and choose to make her as comfortable as possible during her final days. It is time I would never be able to replace, and that life is, a collection of time filled with memories. I hope everyone here can respect that.
In addition to taking care of my mother throughout my twenties, this past year, my father was diagnosed with multiple stage four cancers. So why am I having all this information read to you. Why is it important? I do not want you to be sorry for me. Going back to sorry, what is being sorry anyways? It is feeling distress, especially through sympathy with someone else’s misfortune. But who is it to say my life has been unfortunate.
Just like the sea, life is not predictable; it never goes according to plans, it can go from bad to worse in an instant, but remember the tides will always rise, and the seas will calm after a storm. My whole life I was preparing for a life on the water, from serving in the Coast Guard, to studying multiple ocean sciences, to becoming a scuba diving instructor and licensed captain. My choice to adapt and to take care of my parents, couldn’t have prepared me any better for life on the water. What I have learned from my experience is something I could have never have learned from any school or training. It has granted me some of the most amazing opportunities to explore this world. So again don’t be sorry, I am not a victim. Playing the victim card will not get you anywhere. It will only defeat all of the fight and sacrifices our foremothers made, to get us to where we are today. What some may call misfortune, I call an opportunity to continue to grow, learn, and challenge myself. Life is not easy, its not always fun, but the more work you put into yours, the more rewarding it will be. Life is what you choose to make of it.
We are here to celebrate women divers, so what does eXXpedition Round the World, a sailing voyage have to do with diving? Aside from the fact I am a diver, eXXpedition is an all-female sailing voyage and scientific research mission that will explore plastics and toxins in our oceans. Round the World will begin this October in the United Kingdom, covering 38,000 miles, broken into 30 legs, over the next two years. I will be joining the first leg from the UK to the Azores. What connects sailing with diving is our oceans, the fact that we love being in and on the water. We will be raising awareness and contribute to collecting valuable data to our every growing marine plastics problem. Life at sea is always unexpected, but one thing I always know I will see is unfortunately plastics and garbage debris. Just because it is out of sight, it shouldn’t be out of mind, and by bringing it to light, we can hopefully inspire change. We are a collection of amazing individuals, everyone unique and different, from all backgrounds. As humans we all evolved from the sea, and that’s what unites us. Our connection and curiosity is what draws us back to the bottomless depths.
I do wish I could have been there today, and I want to wish everyone happy and safe diving! Have a great time in the water. When your passionate about something, you want to preserve that for generations to come, and as divers we can bring to light what is happening to our oceans. Share the things you see first hand, challenge yourself and learn about what you experience. Protect what you love. Thank you.”