Let me back up. This is where it starts to get surreal and profoundly emotional, and perhaps that's why I find it so hard to write about.
As I've mentioned, you want to hike or tour with me. Not the least of the reasons is that I have incredibly sharp, quick vision, even with presbyopic glasses. If there is wildlife to be spotted—be it a monkey or exotic bird in a tree, a Cape buffalo in the forest, a raptor on a wire or in the air, a snake in the weeds, a turtle or a dolphin or a shark on the surface of the ocean, or a cool fish undersea—it's a good bet I'm going to be the first to see it. Trained local guides have all remarked on this gift of mine. It's happened time and time again on hikes, car rides (even if I'm driving), boat rides, bus tours, whatever. I'm a great spotter. You have to take my word for this.
So, when we started circling the dive site, without saying anything to anyone, I went up to the top deck with the captain and one of the other dive masters and stationed myself at one side and began scanning the water. Most of the others, except eldest son, Wisdomie (who was keenly aware of what was happening), were down below. Every time I saw the shadow of a breaking wave or a bird bouncing around on top of the ocean, adrenaline rushed to my brain, and I focused like a laser on the object trying to process the visual clues until, hope against hope, I could rule it out as not Doug.
Now it bears telling, we were all hoping—it was unsaid, but everyone on the crew and Wisdomie and I knew—that we wouldn't find a dark object floating on the swells. Or even a shiny object. Whenever you do a drift dive, or a dive where there's a risk of some current, you take down with you what's called a Scuba safety sausage: a large, long, brightly colored—usually yellow, red, or orange—inflatable bladder that floats up to the surface so that bubble watchers and other boaters will be alerted that there's a diver down, often at a safety stop about 15' below the surface. We were hoping to spot Doug's sausage. That would mean, of course, that he'd deployed it and was floating close by waiting for us to pick him up. Seeing a dark or a shiny floating object would mean a person floating face up or face down (tanks flashing in the sunlight).
|Not plastic flowers|
|Wizened face in the cliff side?|
|Wisdoc, parasol in hand, through the forest|
|Fresh Lychees!!! for the hike|
|Jim H. fiddling with the camera while he walks|
|The beach from "The Descendants" movie|