This could be your last meal, my mother jokingly said before we left that day.
The day was bright, and the sun gleaming. The group packed into the muggy van, it was stifling hot, and downright uncomfortable. On a hot summer Missouri day, in the middle of July, your shirt clung to your damp skin. The mission: White Water Rafting.
The drive to the river, where we would begin our incredible journey, seemed to last endless miles. The humidity was almost unbearable; the van had absolutely no ventilation. Fifteen people packed like sardines, anticipating beginning the trip over the rapids. Envisioning the cool water splashing on our sunburned faces. Fleeing from the van was like jumping from a burning building.
Bathing suits on, sunblock applied, strength in tact, we were set. Waiting for the moment when we were able to jump into the raft, and head down stream. Savoring our feet splashing in the chilly water. What we didn”t know, was what the day was about to become, and how it could have changed our lives forever. Less than two hours from now, we would know.
I was assigned to a raft with my brother, my friend, and the river guide. The adults went in another. About an hour after we left, we made our first stop; an enormous rock midstream. We sat there for several minutes hopped back into the raft and we were on our way, rushing down the river, nearing towards the end.
As we approached the last of the rapids, our guide asked if we wanted to surf up them. Surfing is basically paddling up a rapid. We practiced for several minutes, because you have to get used to paddling against the current, then you can go up against a rapid. We were prepared, and ready for the last of the excitement in our adventure on the rapids.
Fighting our way up the rapid, it all played out in slow motion. We paddled hard, and so powerfully. I remember it being like a space ship bursting into the sky, or a bomb exploding, when another raft came charging down the rapid, crashing into my side of the raft. I was thrown off the raft, into the bitterly frigid water.
All playing back in my head now, even slower I found myself panicking. I realized that my foot had been lodged in between two rocks. As my life is flashing before my eyes, I saw fearful people above the water. I was unbelievably frightened. I heard screams, and yelling from above water. Then I thought to myself, What if I can”t see images of my life seconds from now? What if I can”t feel terrified? What if I can”t see the people just above me? Abruptly, as if I was released from a funnel cloud. I was pushed into the stream. Now I was gliding downstream. My foot was released, my fear calmed, and the images weren”t flashing anymore. I was safe.