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Death Be Afraid Not!
Death Be Afraid Not!
In the short time that I have been on this planet, I have died twice.
I was swimming at a sandy beach, one hot summer day, while traveling overseas. On either side of the roped off beach area were tree stands. I have always been a curious fellow, so I went over to have a closer look at the vegetation in the area. As I walked, the bottom of the beach disappeared from beneath my feet.
I went down so quick, I had no time to catch a breath. Upon being submerged in water, everything went pitch black. However, panic did not set in. Instead I was overcome by a peaceful bliss. It was like an out of body experience that you read about or see in movies. I felt like I was just floating in peace. I did not dream, or have thoughts flashing through my mind.
I came out of the bliss in convulsions with water puring out of my nose as I threw up all over the place. After I regained my senses, the paramedic who was kneeling next to me asked how I felt. I felt fine I said. He indicated that he had them worried as I had been out for almost half an hour, and when they arrived on the scene I was being given CPR as I wasn't breathing and had no pulse. They thought I was a goner. They took me to the hospital as a precaution and after being examined by a Dr. i was released and carried on with my vacation.
A friend and I had planned a white water canoe trip from the rockies down to the city we were living in. We packed everything up in my brothers car and he drove us to the head waters. the river we were going to canoe down was glacial runoff. The water had that whitish blue look to it and it was very cold. We launched the canoe and for about 4 hours the trip had gone exactly as planned. The water was a bit quicker than we thought and we were making good time. The sun was out and kept us nice and warm. It was tempting to take our life jackets off, but in retrospect it is a good thing we didn't. About noon we were thinking of pulling off to the side and having lunch. As we were discussing this the water became more choppy and we quickly found our selves in some pretty intense white water rapids.
Prepared for this we concentrated on the work at hand putting lunch out of our mind. What we weren't prepared for is what happened next.
We came out of a trough over a peak and the river in front of us disappeared. We were launched over a waterfall. Both of us went tumbling out of the canoe leaving our canoe and supply to fend for themselves. As we came crashing down at the base of the falls we were both sucked under and held down by the water coming down from the falls. I lost track of my friend at this point. My body was being torn in two. The force of the water and undercurrent keeping me dragging along the bottom of the river and the buoyancy of my life jacket trying to get back to the surface. It was at this point were my mind went into that peaceful state as it had many years earlier. In this case everything went white. The last thing I remember is the life jacket being pulled upward as if saying the hell with you, I'm getting to the surface with or without you. My arms started to raise and the life jacket was slipping up off my chest. But for some reason, I lowered my arms, crossed them and held on tight. I went to sleep.
I awoke face down in the mud on the left shore. The front of me was cold and cramped from the water. My back was warm from the sun. It took me some time before I could get up strength to move. when I moved, my friend called across the river, "Are you okay". I looked over and called, Yes!" When I got up and surveyed myself to make sure I was okay, my friend indicated that I would have to cross the river as the only road in or out of where we were was on his side. At this point in the river it was calm and the crossing was easy. It also cleaned off the mud from where I washed ashore.
My friend indicated he was worried about me, as in the first time I was out for about thirty minutes. In this case I do not know if I actually died, but always assumed I had. We walked back up stream to where everything had happened. We were lucky to be alive. We didn't just go over one waterfall, we went over a chain of four of them. We were lucky not to have been crushed by falling on the rocks at the base of the falls. We lost everything we had on us. This included all our gear, the canoe, wallets, glasses, watches. The only thing we ever found was a yellow plastic container of French's mustard we brought along for the hot dogs.
At the end of the day, I have made peace with death and am not afraid. I am not afraid of water, perhaps the reason that I have worked most of my life in water and have visited the ocean bottom on several occasions. Working in ocean storms is just another way of making a living, that I have come to enjoy.
4/19/2006 10:35 am
What ever fear I might have had of drowning, i think is gone, at least for the moment.|