My beloved husband, Ed, was a sailor. He loved being in or near water. I loved being near water, too, but I almost drowned as a child and have worn swim floats and life jackets since.
I am like a moth attracted to a flame. I am afraid but can’t stay away from the water. Throughout our marriage, Ed tried to gently help me overcome my fear by taking me sailing, kayaking and to other water adventures so I could learn to enjoy the water without fear.
I found a note that Ed left behind that said, “Leo’s birthday gift — swim lessons — and a name. I found that swim instructor. She became my teacher. She patiently helped me overcome my claustrophobia when I put my face in the water. She gently guided me into the deep end to help me overcome my fear of heights. She ended every lesson saying, “Ed is so proud of you.” She video recorded me swimming so I could send the video to my sons. They were so surprised and proud.
The water in the pool has become holy water for me. I imagine myself entering the River Jordan to be baptized by John like Jesus was. When I swim, I don’t look down or around anymore. I focus on the blue tile cross on the pool wall that I swim toward. I tell myself that as long as I keep my eyes on the cross, I will be with God and Ed one day. That keeps me swimming.
Now I’m swimming laps almost every day. Before I go into the water, I play the song “Dive” to inspire me to “take a leap of faith” and keep diving into life like Ed would want me to. I keep diving in.
Leonor “Leo” and Ed Rivera were members of the local Worldwide Marriage Encounter community for 32 of their 34 years of marriage until Ed unexpectedly died of a heart attack on Aug. 1, 2020. In honor of what would have been their 35th wedding anniversary on June 21, 2021, Leo has decided to donate $100 application fees to the first 35 couples that sign up for the Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend Nov. 12-14, 2021, at Notre Dame Retreat House in Canandaigua. Couples can apply at www.wwme.org and use the discount code ED&LEO35.
To read more of Leo and Ed’s blogs, visit https://catholiccourier.com/viewpoints/blogs/to-have-and-to-hold.