I was so mad at him. I was mad the whole trip. It was my first visit to Hawaii, what should have been a perfect (beta) honeymoon – tropical beaches, fruity drinks, and romance. But I was pissed. I don’t remember why.

Did I make the right call? We had the best night in Vegas just a few days before. Laughing and running through the strip – in ridiculous clothes in a ridiculous city. Sipping champagne from the liquor store after saying a few words in a little white chapel that sealed our fates together. But was that the right call? 25. 25? I thought I’d be older, gotten more done. But 25, sulking immature on the beaches of Kauai.

It would be a bumpy road getting to that isolated beach. We had our snorkeling gear tossing around the back of the burgundy jeep, up and down the impossible road. It should have been a sign.

And then finally we got there. Hardly anyone there in paradeise, white white sand and blue blue waves. Giant black overwhelming cliffs just beyond. In the shadows of Mordor.

He was out paddling around and I was settling myself into the sand, not bothering to read. I was too annoyed to do much.

Geez, why was I so annoyed?

Finally, I approached the shore. He beckoned me in. I was nervous about the waves. He said he’d be there for me. He’d be there, of course.

The water was nice, warm and everything you’d want Hawaiian water to be. I had my cheap blue neon sunglasses on. One minute we were jumping around and holding each other and the next… a huge wave and I was knocked out. My bikini bottoms floated by my ankles and my sunglasses long gone. I made it to the surface, out of breath. Where was he? He told me he’d be here. I was alone. My previous anger shot up exponentially.


Where was he? Was he hiding? Was he playing a trick? Huffing and puffing, I got out. And I couldn’t see him. I strained my eyes and scanned the waves. He wasn’t there.



Where was he? He said he’d be here.

Ten minutes went by. I started screaming.

The waves took him.

I couldn’t see him. There was no one there.

I’m alone. I start screaming bloody murder.

Please Jesus, please.

Then in the farthest distance, I see him. He waves at me. I am only slightly relieved, he was so so far away I could barely see him.

I tried to figure out how much time had passed at this point. How long I’d been screaming before I could see him. How long it took from the time I saw him to him getting closer. I have no clue. It could’ve been 5 minutes, it could’ve been an hour.

It was hell.

I finally saw him get closer and I ran, stupidly, into the water. I was knee deep, when another one hit. I was slammed by a wave, a mac truck I should’ve seen coming. I didn’t know how to swim. I tumbled and tumbled. I broke the surface. And then another huge wave, several feet over my head hit again. I took a giant breath. Tumbled and tumbled, not knowing which way up.

All I could think:

Jesus. Please Jesus. Please Jesus. Rescue me.

I broke through.

Another wave.

Jesus, please Jesus.

Finally, I broke through without another wave engulfing me. Gladly, Brad was so close, on the beach. The water was to my ankles. He reached out his hand, “c’mon babe.”

I couldn’t move my feet. That current was so strong, the water was at my ankles! And I couldn’t move my feet.

Jesus, please Jesus.

Finally, something in the water broke (and I along with it) and I walked out. Collapsed into my husband on that beach. Shaking and shaking and shaking.

That day, I thought that I would never see my husband again. I thought he was dead. As soon as relief came over me, that’d he’d be okay, I thought I was going to die. That I’d never see my husband again. My mom. My brother. My best friend. Something so real shifted that day. All the crevices in my body were filled with fear, and slowly that fear took over absolutely everything for years. Panic attack after panic attack. Seeing a beach in a movie, driving on the coast, even thinking about waves – sent me into spinning debilitating anxiety that would paralyze me for days. All the breath and life that those waters threatened to take that day were eventually taken away, slowly and bit by bit. What those waters couldn’t accomplish that day, my body did to itself. Every night a nightmare would wait for me, waves engulfed my dreams, my days, until they finally swallowed me completely.


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