On The Rapids
"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.