To most people, a day by the ocean is full of sunshine and relaxation, but for Nate Berkus, it's a small victory after surviving a tsunami in 2004.
The interior designer and his partner Fernando Bengoechea were on vacation in Sri Lanka, when a tsunami swept them out of their hotel. While Nate survived the harrowing experience, which took the lives of thousands, Fernando was never found.
Now, Nate shares two children with husband Jeremiah Brent, and though it took many years, the father is once again comfortable enough to venture out into the ocean.
Jeremiah recognized the significance of Nate walking in the ocean with their daughter Poppy in an Instagram post from Thursday, Aug. 19. "One of the most profound and unrecognized parts of Nate's spirit is his strength," he wrote. "I watched my husband, who survived such tragedy and such loss in 2004, walk our children into the ocean earlier this week. He has broken the chain of fear and wades in the water, full of laughter and full of joy. There is no one like him."
Jeremiah, who married Nate in 2014, shared that Thursday would've been Fernando's 56th birthday. "Our family will always keep his art and story alive, even as we move forward. Always," he said.
Grey's Anatomy actress Ellen Pompeo commented on Jeremiah's post, "Definitely crying for all the reasons… the beauty of the human spirit and it's journey."
On Nate's Instagram, he vowed that Fernando will "never be forgotten."
Both Nate and Jeremiah have consistently shown their dedication to keeping Fernando's memory alive, whether it's by giving their son Fernando's middle name of Oskar or hanging pictures from the photographer in their home.
"[Fernando is] a part of our love story," Jeremiah explained to People in 2018. "It's such an important chapter in Nate's life. So the idea that we can honor his memory in a beautiful way was exciting to us."
Two years later, the couple bought a beach home in Montauk, which was a tough decision for Nate, according to a 2020 interview with Elle Decor. However, he told the outlet, "I didn't want my experience in the tsunami to deprive our family of summers like that."
After settling into the home, Jeremiah told People that Nate has formed a better relationship with the sea, sharing how "he trusts the water again to some extent."