We first ran this story in the November 2004 issue of Scuba Diving, part of a larger feature on how diving changed the lives of five different people. Marc and Adam Davidson lost their father in the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers, and as part of the story, "Why I Dive," Marc recounted his and his brother's decision to get certified the year after the attacks. The Editor's Note at the end is a heart-wrenching update of Marc's life since 2004.
Why I Dive: Marc Davidson
Like many people around the world, Marc and Adam Davidson sat watching their televisions in horror on Sept. 11, 2001, as two passenger jets slammed into the World Trade Center. But for Marc, 31, who lived in British Columbia, and Adam, 26, of Portland, Ore., the pain was stunning — their father, Lawrence Davidson, was at his office on the 93rd floor of the South Tower, just about where the second plane hit.
"I said to myself, 'Oh my god, my dad's in there,'" says Marc.
Thus began a long journey for the two brothers. It started with joining up in Whistler, flying to Toronto — where they picked up their mother — and making a 10-hour drive to Manhattan just days after the attack. In New York, they met with assistance workers amidst the towers' smoldering wreckage, not believing their eyes. They both instinctively knew their father was gone, but still had to go through the motion of filing a missing person's report. Adding to the surreal scene, the two brothers gave DNA samples to help identify any remains.
As the weeks dragged on, there was no sign of their father. Davidson was only 51 when he died. Marc and Adam sorted through his effects and handled the estate without the benefit of a will. During that time, the two brothers decided they needed to get far away from the incessant coverage of the attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. The trip would center on an entirely new activity, too: scuba diving.
The destination they chose — Micronesia — was far from the terrorism-obsessed western world. The two brothers learned to dive and were certified in their respective hometowns in April 2002, and they took off in June, aiming to be away for Father's Day. The first few dives were in Yap. "Both of us knew after the first week in Yap that we definitely made the right decision," says Marc. "We were instantly hooked."
The brothers dived in Truk Lagoon, Pohnpei, the Marshall Islands and Palau. They were awestruck, says Marc. Adam and Marc celebrated Father's Day by burying an urn of soil from the World Trade Center site on a deserted beach near Palau. (Their father's remains were never identified.) Though he was not a diver, Lawrence Davidson was a beach lover, says Marc.
Soon thereafter, Marc and a friend and a friend who had joined the trip dived a Japanese World War II naval wreck that still contained some sailors' remains. It did not horrify him or bring on great sadness. Instead, "It made us realize that things like 9/11 have happened before," says Marc.
The brothers have not had much time to dive together since that trip, but have continued on their own with others. And both have since gotten married.
Though their father's absence was felt at their weddings, the brothers are not consumed with bitterness, says Marc. And they're planning to dive in Palau again in 2012, 10 years after laying a bit of New York and themselves to rest in a diver's paradise.
EDITOR'S NOTE: We contacted Marc in preparing to run this story. He wrote:
"Thank you so much for your email and for remembering me. Of course, you can rerun the piece. I am actually going to be a name reader at the memorial at Ground Zero this year, which will be a special way of putting closure to this whole event. In 2008, my father's remains were finally identified through new DNA testing techniques, and along with my wife and two infant daughters, I was able to bury what they found.
"I did this piece related to 9/11 that you may link to: Burn Magazine
"My website has some photo sculptures that I made for my wife; she passed away in October of last year, and I am now a widower with daughters who are four and six."