It is always someone’s fault. A drowning is rarely blameless. At the very least, there’s a lingering feeling that it could have been prevented. Your friend recommends a good vacation spot in the Bahamas to her neighbors; they go, and the husband drowns. But there were warning signs posted everywhere, your friend explains to you, and you know that she has said the same thing to herself, over and over. . . .


My son Patrick and I were a safe distance from shore. Then we were too far out. I’d been concentrating on breathing calmly through my snorkel and keeping my eyes open behind the mask. The previous day, I’d nearly hyperventilated from the effort of sucking air through a tube. Now we were swept out to sea just as I was starting to relax.