Scuba Diver Apologizes to Family of Dead Man

nick 1 To Nick’s wife, daughter, and son … You don’t know me, but  I owe you this.  It is an apology delivered to you on so many levels, that I’m not sure which one to address first. I suppose my FIRST apology to you is my anonymous interference in your life.  Secondly, I’m terribly sorry that this will come across as rushed and desperate. Thirdly, even though there may be a comical element to the outsider looking in, I recognize and agonize over the fact that you are not on that same page.

They say that an apology is the “super glue of life”, so I’m giving it my best shot.

I’m a diver much like your beloved and departed Nick. so please try and read this with the filters of a kindred spirit.

I’m in Honduras diving. I’m by myself and went out last night for a night dive to a shipwreck about 100 ft. down. No one else was there. It was dark and all I had was my little goofy flashlight. Weather was moving in so the water was pretty stirred up. About 30 min into the dive I came across a blue box on one of the ship decks. It was about the size of a brick. It looked a lot like the casing that my dive computer came in except it was blue. I picked it up and tried to open it, but was getting tossed around from the current so I just stuck it in my dive vest with the intention of turning it into lost and found back on shore. I figured someone dropped it out of their dive bag or something. I finished the dive and when I got to the surface, I anchored myself against a floating dock so that I could try and get it open; I was just curious at this point. I finally broke the seal and got it open. There was weird random stuff (a few poker chips, golf tees, a Vietnam Vet pin, and a lot of what I thought was just sediment that had gotten trapped inside and dried. The “sediment” all pretty much blew away cause it was super windy out. I closed it up and carried it in my dive vest till I got back. I tried to give it to the little Honduran man that I turned my tank into asking him to give it to lost and found. He got all freaked out. That’s when I learned though a manic Spanglish cursing that I had disturbed and desecrated a dead guy’s memorial.  He frantically wanted to know if I opened it and, of course, I lied (yes!! LIED) and said “no” because I could see where this was going.

I am of weak character.

Anyway, they wouldn’t touch it and told me I had to go right then and put it back. Well, that wasn’t going to happen. It was late, pitch black and would have taken me back out into the ocean by myself for another hour or more. My Spanish isn’t good enough to totally understand what they were saying as I walked away with your dear Nick in the box, but I’m guessing they were certain that I would be visited by demons that would pull me into a watery grave much like the one I just desecrated.

In the light of my room, I could see that there was a name and date written in marker ink that I hadn’t seen before. That’s how I learned that it was your Nick. So Nick spent the night with me.  And, the next day, the ramifications of my ignorance started popping up everywhere in this tight Honduran community.  Rightfully so, I suppose, I was treated like an Elvira priestess by the guys that I have to get my tanks from. They would probably be scheduling an exorcism if they knew the truth … that I actually HAD opened it, and against his wishes, Nick’s ashes are all over the Caribbean by now. I told them I would put him back as soon as I could. But tricking the tank boy into thinking I have atoned does not soothe my soul.  Nick is all over the Caribbean and that’s not what he wanted and it is all my fault.

If I were standing before you now, I would say:  “I am so sorry. I wish you knew even one tenth of one percent of how sorry I am. It was my fault. Can I kill myself here, or should I do it outside, so the stain on your carpet doesn’t just create a bigger mess for you to deal with?

  • I get how funny this is on an awkard level. I get how bad you feel also.

  • Glenna Johnson

    There’s no way this person could have known what was in the box, unless it said “DO NOT DISTURB — FINAL RESTING PLACE OF NICK _____.” The helpful impulse to return the case to its rightful owner was a good one. So many people would have lied, hidden what they’d done, never acknowledged that it made them feel bad… I hope the writer realizes no fault and no guilt are necessary here. And if Nick’s family gets to read this, I hope they feel the same way I do, because an unsealed plastic case without any indication of its contents isn’t something people know to leave undisturbed. And if it’s such a sacred, taboo object that the locals all knew about it, why didn’t the scuba shop/tank rental guys warn the diver in advance that it was down there and not to touch or take it? If this is a genuine letter of apology and not a work of fiction, I want the writer to know that there’s no need to feel guilty, because there was never the intention to cause trouble or harm — only a simple misunderstanding. (If it’s meant to be funny, I’m not getting it, because the other emotions being expressed get in the way. To me, it’s like laughing at somebody carrying a lot of packages slipping on ice and falling on his ass.)