Denise L.

I was 14 years old. My parents allowed me to go on vacation with my girlfriend and her family. In the summer of 1973, we went camping near the beach. I was a rarity in Southern California in that I didn’t know know how to swim, but I loved the water. I went dog-paddling out into the mostly-calm water. There is a little breakwater and a bay, as I recall. Out of nowhere, a very large wave came and pulled me under.

I remember not being able to breathe and for a split second I was terrified. Then I felt peace that was not particularly pleasant nor unpleasant emotion. I rose above my body and watched it tumble around in the water. I wasn’t afraid or struggling because I wasn’t in my body at all.

Then all of a sudden I was back in my body. I was gasping, spluttering, and trying to cough up the water that was trying to get into my lungs. I never lost consciousness.