by Tara Roberts

Her name is Gaia, and she is the mother.
Her name is Yara, and she is the daughter.

Mother and daughter have a symbiotic, close, complicated relationship.

Their love for the ocean is one of the things that binds them together.

The mother wanted to be a marine biologist when she was the daughter’s age. She dreamed of an underwater world with strange sea creatures and herself immersed in the deep blue. But she got pregnant with the daughter during college and dropped out of school. And well, you know how these things go: relationships end, another child appears, moves to other parts of the country become necessary, life continues on its own twisty path. And then you wake up one day, and it’s 15 years later, and now you are a receptionist at a hotel, greeting customers with your shy smile.

But the mother is so proud of her tall, bright, shining girl on the brink of womanhood. She doesn’t feel she has sacrificed anything at all.

And she hasn’t … because life works in a beautiful, completely unpredictable, magical way.

This daughter, who grew in her womb while that passion for the sea raged loudest, absorbed some of her passion. Maybe it was just a blip initially planted somewhere in the bottom of her belly, but that tiny dot has exploded grandly, loudly — Lordy, oh Lordy — it now crackles with sparkles and twinkles. The daughter, still just a babe in high school, heard the sea calling and answered. On her own.

She joined Centro Comunitário de Buceo Embajadores y Embajadoras del Mar for scuba diving and underwater archaeology training because she wants to use the ocean as a way to embrace her identity and find her roots. Her father is of Jamaican descent and has a possible connection to the suspected sunken slave ships in the harbor. She, somehow like the mother when she was the daughter’s age, feels the sea will provide her with a sense of self that she might not otherwise find.

And the mother realizes on a deep, wordless level that maybe this is her chance, too – that a dream deferred can be a dream regained. So she signs up for PADI–scuba dive training with her daughter. Hesitant at first, but then with certainty, she says that her daughter has given opportunity back to her, has embodied the wild spirit that lived within her so long ago, has encouraged that part of her to resurface and to be explored again. Together.

The daughter’s eyes fill with tears during this retelling.

Why are you crying?

I am so proud of her, she says.

All go silent as the daughter sinks into the depth of that feeling and then fights her way back to the top again. She repeats quietly, voice cracking, I am just so proud of her.

New dreams on top of old dreams building a ladder to new realities.

This is the magic of life expressed through the power of the ocean … of motherhood and daughterhood … of womanhood and girlhood … of Costa Rica and Puerto Viejo … of freedom and wildness … of slave ships and ancestral searches … of the ocean, again of the ocean, of all that blue-green water … all mixed together in a mighty, healing blend.

Originally published in the Diving With a Purpose (DWP) blog