The Diving Accident

The moment I felt my foot slip, I knew I was in trouble.  I attempted the flip anyway, wanting to impress my 10 year-old friend.

I didn’t pull out on time.

My head hit the bottom of the pool, and as my neck snapped back, I was intensely aware that this was the end.  Now paralyzed, my body sunk.  My eyes sought the surface of the water, searching for some hope, but all I could see was a blinding light.

Distracted, I momentarily forgot my predicament.  Why have I never noticed the sun from here before?  I wondered.  An avid swimmer, I loved swimming underwater with my eyes open, performing tricks and pretending I was a mermaid or a dolphin. This day, I decided to practice my ‘Olympic’ dives.  My friend, who was a year older, wasn’t quite as brave.  I might have been showing off a bit.

It’s not the sun, I realized.  The white light was encompassing me now, and with it I felt a deep sense of calm and peacefulness.  My moment had come.

Come home, the light beckoned.

But I just got started!  Do I have to?

No.  You can stay, but you have to know it won’t be easy.

It’s okay, my mind responded.  I am strong.

You will have to be strong, but you will never be alone.

A force of love lifted me from that water, and I watched myself climb the ladder and collapse on the ground.   Then I was me again, shaken and trembling, but alive.  My friend had disappeared.  I hoped she’d gone for help, but when none materialized, I knew I had to make myself move.

I escaped that day with a cracked vertebrae, and a summer of sleeping on a hard board while it healed: a hardship I would soon forget.  The memory of that white light, though, has never left me.  I was nine when I had my first taste of how sacred life is, and learned that it is not a destination, but a journey.