I was spending the day at the river with my younger siblings, my mother, and some of her friends. My brother and I had wandered off to the water’s edge, up to no good. I was dared to go past the red line painted on the boat launch where the river meets. I was one foot past the red line, four-year-old me was sucked out into the current, bobbing, kicking trying, ineffectively, to scream ‘help’ every time. I broke the surface as the water dragged me away. I would barely get, ‘He…’ and water would fill my throat, five maybe six tries. After that, just trying to breathe and break the surface became my world for what felt like eternity. Yet, was likely only five minutes or less. I grew tired.
I felt myself becoming quiet inside, calm almost numb. I was still bobbing, not quite making it to the surface, with my eyes wide open. I felt something brush my calf. My gaze caught a large fish swimming away. I remember being surprised and thinking, ‘Oh, a fish,’ after all that was what we were looking for when we came down to the water to take a look. I floated, still looking where the fish had gone.
I was calm and peaceful. A warm sensation began to build as light filled the river, my body, my thoughts, everything. It was as if reality was filtered away and I was beyond thought, one with the energy that was all. The love and connection was indescribable. I became aware again, the warmth was focusing around, underneath, and behind, almost as if coalescing to cradle the self I became again. Without words or images there was communication a cherishing comfort and then, and then, there are no other words for the bereavement even as I know it was a choice that I made for a purpose that still eludes me.
Even writing this, the transition back, brings me such a feeling of loss that this entire world tastes of ashes: the struggle to retch up the water, feeling flesh again, and a painful awakening. Drifting in and out, I was spread across the front seat of a car careening up the hill to the hospital. I had awareness of being in a bed, feeling fine, strange scratchy gown, stillness and quiet. I felt fine was recovered within hours, discharged the next day. I never learned the name of the man who jumped in to rescue me and bring me to the hospital. I was discharged to my father’s care and we only returned home to my mother’s house to pick-up clothes and say goodbye to my brother sister and mother. All I have left from the experience is a core spark, a connection point to that other realm, state of awareness.