If this is your first time here, or for those of you who don’t know what happened to my husband, Mike, this is what took place the day I became a widow…

That Morning

It was a typical day really.  Friday, October 5, 2007.  To the day I was seventeen weeks, 6 days pregnant.

Mike hadn’t been feeling too well, like he was battling a cold, so he didn’t get up early to go swimming like he usually did every morning.  Which meant I got to spend extra time with him that morning before he rushed off to work.

I was preparing to make the coffee that we usually enjoyed together when my pregnant clumbsiness took over and the glass coffee pot slipped from my hand and landed on the tile floor in hundreds of pieces.  I started crying.  Typical pregnant woman.  Mike came over to me, and before helping me clean it up, he took me in his arms and held me, telling me it was ok, not a big deal, “no worries”.  I was so upset, I don’t even remember how long I cried, tears mixing in with the shards of glass spread upon the floor.

Later that morning I was sitting on the couch, finishing my breakfast of home-baked banana nut bread and sipping my decaf coffee when Mike was getting ready to leave for work.  I remember him standing in the doorway, looking as handsome as ever as we kissed goodbye.  I was still upset about the coffee pot breaking, but somehow he managed to make me forget about it for a few minutes.  We said our I love you’s and out the door he went.  Seconds later the door opened once again.  I thought he’d forgotten something, but he only wanted one more kiss.

And that was the last time I saw him alive.


What Happened

Mike was an avid free-diver.  Free-diving being the sport of wearing only a mask, fins and sometimes a snorkel and weight belt, and holding your breath while diving underwater.  He practiced and practiced, every chance he could get.  Just like with anything you practice, the more you do it the better you get.  So the more you practice free-diving, the longer you can hold your breath.

Mike was good.  He used to come home and tell me about his adventures in free-diving.  “I made it to the sand on the Spiegel Grove today” (about 130 feet), or “I held my breath for three minutes today and never felt the urge to breathe” were things he’d say.  He studied books and went to online forums discussing ways to help dive deeper, longer, and the possible dangers and how to avoid them.  He knew it was risky, but he lived to take risks.

That afternoon, October 5th, 2007 Mike was out on the boat (he was a captain and dive instructor, working for a SCUBA dive shop that took guests out diving the local reefs and ships around Key Largo, Florida).  A beautiful day, sunny and warm.  I’m sure Mike was just itching to get in the water and put his free-diving skills to practice.

He called me during this time, just before getting in the water, and left me a voicemail message on my cell phone. He was happy and excited, talking about how he was ready to begin remodeling our spare room to expand it and make more room for the baby, planned for the upcoming weekend. I remember looking at my cell phone when I was at work that afternoon and seeing I missed a call from him, but knowing the policy against making personal calls at work, I decided to wait until I left work to call him back.  I wish I hadn’t.  He was already gone by then.

I won’t go into the details surrounding his death.  To put it simply, Mike had brought a co-worker/friend and a couple other guests out to the ship called the Duane.  While everyone was underwater, Mike made a few free-dives, waving to the guys on SCUBA as he dove down, deeper and deeper.  When their dive was up, the divers on SCUBA came back to the boat to find their captain missing.  They waited for a few minutes, not seeing Mike come back to the surface and decided to go back in the water and look for him.

After much searching, and just before giving up, they spotted Mike on the bottom at 120 feet, lying motionless.  An autopsy was preformed and it was determined that Mike had died of Shallow Water Blackout.  A well-known danger of free-diving.

We suspect that Mike had made a few dives in a short amount of time.  His last one was made and he came back to the surface.  While just at the surface of the water he blacked out and, because he was underwater, he died, and sunk back down.  His very good friend was forced to do the unthinkable act of bringing his dead friend up from the bottom of the ocean.  And I was suddenly forced into a life without my love, my life, my soul, and the father of my unborn child.