My Accidental Almost Near Death Experience
Ggelp, ggelp I'm Ggrowning
The day began well. It was a perfect day in paradise. The sun was high in a clear blue sky; its golden rays warming my skin. The crystal clear water of the ocean; a gentle breeze ruffling the leaves on the trees providing some welcome shade, soft white sand beneath my feet, what could possibly spoil this idyllic scene. Well, how about a quick attempt at drowning?
On my first foray into the ocean, I had noticed that there was a stronger than usual current trying desperately and persistently to lift my feet off the bottom, and sweep me out to sea. I managed to resist and plant my feet firmly in the sand, safe in the knowledge that if I could stand up, all was well.
You see, I am not noted for my swimming ability. A few splashes with my legs, accompanied by a rapid flailing of my arms and I am done for the day. If I manage to move myself more than a few feet forward it is a triumph. But if I stop flailing my arms and legs, because I have never learned to tread water, I sink with alarming rapidity beneath the surface, never to reappear; much like a heavy stone would do.
On Drowning Beach, there were no signs warning of rip currents, in fact no flags or warnings of any danger whatsoever, nor were there any lifeguards on duty. So in we went, all six of us in our party, to cool off and have some harmless fun; a bit of a splash in the sea.
It started well enough, with me standing in waist-high water, jumping up to meet the incoming waves. One minute I was standing on the bottom, the next I was swept off my feet, and swiftly carried out to sea, borne on the sudden, powerful rip current. So were the other members of our group. But they were good swimmers, I was not.
In vain, I tried to put my feet on the bottom, only to feel my head sink below the water. I tried to shout for help, but with the salty sea water entering my mouth, all I managed was a series of gurgling noises, resembling “gggelp gggelp”. Not surprisingly, no-one heard me. With some desperate, ungainly kicks and a splashing of arms, I managed to struggle back to the surface.
Gripped by panic, I manoeuvred myself onto my back, and continued desperately flailing my arms and kicking my legs. The reward for my efforts was several more mouthfuls of salty seawater, combined with a rapid loss of energy, but little or no forward movement.
I knew what was happening. I was unable to shout, but instead managed to croak, “ggelp, ggelp, I’,m gggrowning. Gggrowning”. Of course, again, nobody heard me, but thankfully someone did see me splashing about, and deciding that I was not just an ungainly swimmer, but actually was in urgent need of assistance. She came to my rescue.
An Angelic Voice Whispers in my Ear
It was my girlfriend. Untrained in life-saving, but determined to help me, she dived under the water and tried to push me back to shore. After several attempts, she gave up, as we both realised that this was not working, and only served to make us both more tired. As my energy waned even more, I began to resign myself to the fact that these could well be my final moments on this planet, and that very soon, I might go to meet my maker.
As if in response to these very thoughts, I heard an angelic female voice whisper in my ear, “Stop struggling. Relax”, so I did as requested. I allowed my body to float on the water, with my arms and legs motionless. I closed my eyes and waited, calmly, patiently, feeling at peace with the world. I waited for the moment when I would soon see my entire life flash before my eyes, and hear heralds of angels singing, as a precursor to me travelling through the tunnel of light and on to the pearly gates, where St. Peter would be waiting to greet me.
I floated and I waited. It seemed that several seconds passed, but there were no Angels and no heavenly music. Nor was there a tunnel of light. And why had my long- departed loved ones not come to greet me? My spirit should have been floating above my body by now, observing everything below. Then another unwelcome thought leaped into my mind.
“Oh no, I am not going to the other place am I ?”. I tried desperately to think of all and any foul and devious deeds of mine which may have precluded my entrance into heaven, and instead, condemned me to eternal damnation and suffering in “the other place”.
I had never killed anyone, or even badly hurt anyone. True, I had cheated a bit on my taxes, but doesn’t everyone? I had always (well almost always) treated others as I would want to be treated myself. I had been generous and kind (most of the time). My catholic upbringing summoned up the Ten Commandments, and I ran through them, searching for transgressions. Well, true, I had not been a Saint, but on balance, nor did I think I deserved to be sent “down there”.
I was still feeling a bit grieved about this unfair judgment of my life, when I felt a tug on my neck. “Ah”, I thought to myself. ”Now it’s really time to go. Goodbye world, goodbye”. Surely the Grim Reaper had come to collect me. I suppose he could sound like an Angel if he wanted too, just to fool me. Surely it was his gnarled hand resting on my shoulder which would pull me down, down to the depths of the unknown, to his kingdom full of misery, suffering and despair, from where I would never escape. My thoughts ceased, my mind became still, and again I awaited the inevitable. Again, I floated and waited. But then there was another tug on my neck, and another, and another.
I opened my eyes. To my surprise, I was still very much in my physical body; my aching limbs coupled with the strong taste of sea-water in my mouth bore testimony to that. What was happening?
I then realised that the angelic female voice I had heard, did not belong to an Angel or the Grim Reaper, but to the daughter of my girlfriend, and that the tugging came from her arm which was around my neck. She was swimming alongside me, steadily bringing us both ever closer to the shore.
A near near-death experience
A huge sense of relief gushed through me. It seemed that the grim reaper would have to wait a bit longer before adding me to his tally. This was not to be my last day on earth after all. Yes, I was relieved, but now that the imminent danger was over, I also began to feel a bit disappointed.
Why? Well you see, I would have quite liked an instantaneous review of my life to flash before my eyes. It might have been quite entertaining, even a revelation; or maybe I would have learned something profound about my misspent time on earth. And what about an NDE, the famed Near Death Experience? I would have quite liked one of those too, complete with the journey through the tunnel of light to meet my deceased loved-ones. Yes I would have enjoyed that - as long as I was safely returned to the land of the living afterwards, of course. I mean, I would be OK with near death, but real death, no, that would be taking things a bit too far for my liking.
So here I was, gently being pulled back to dry land, after a failed attempt at drowning- or should I say, a failed attempt at Near Death. When I felt my bottom hit something hard, I knew we had arrived. I could now stand up and carry my weary limbs back to the beach and the welcome shade of the tree.
My girlfriend had already managed to swim to shore, and she was waiting for me there. She told me that when she saw me struggling in the water, when I thought I was “ggrrrowning”, my face had gone quite literally green, much like the colour of the iguana we had seen scurrying across the beach earlier on.
Just then, we heard another shout. It was from one of the other members of our party. He also had been carried unwittingly out to sea by the current, but away from our group, much further along the beach. Like me, he could not swim very well, but he had the added disadvantage of being inebriated.
We watched as his head bobbed up and down, above the water, under the water, above the water, then under again. Each time that his head reappeared, he attempted to attract attention, shouting “Rdoo, rdoo”, a garbled call for his son (whose name is Eduardo) to come and save him. His son did see him, and raced along the beach, grabbing an inflated black tyre along the way, which he tossed into the sea ahead of him, so that this father could hold on to it, and stay above the water long enough to be rescued.
Later, when our group was safely reunited on the beach under the tree, myself and the other “near deather” were able to laugh about our ordeal. We joked that we would go back again the next day and have another attempt at drowning, because this one had not been very successful.
But really, we all knew that it was no laughing matter. Two of us had come close to losing our lives. I wonder how many people have actually drowned there?
No, that day at Drowning Beach was not my day to succumb to the pull of Davey Jones’ locker. It was my failed attempt at drowning; one failure that I was happy to celebrate.
Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved.
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