The Day I Almost Died

Thursday, April 16, 2015

I don't usually talk about this because, considering the nature of the event, it can be difficult to recount.  But yesterday I was on a writing streak and I completed 12 poems — one of which was about my near death experience.

For those who haven't heard the story, the best way to articulate what happened that day is through my college entrance essay Lifeline, which describes the reason why I'm still alive.


In Florida, we are surrounded by water: the ocean, pools and lakes.  

Therefore, it’s no surprise that in Florida, the number one cause of childhood death is drowning.  

As a child, drowning was my greatest fear.  I wondered what it would feel like, struggling for air beneath the water.  I remember testing myself, holding my breath for as many seconds as possible before my lungs began to burn.

I never guessed that one day my life would depend upon every second.

At age eleven, I was swimming in our backyard pool when I suddenly felt a sharp pain in the back of my head.  To my horror, I discovered that my waist-length hair was caught in our pool filter, keeping me pinned against the wall under the water.  The more I struggled, the more I was kept prisoner.  Instinctively, I opened my mouth to scream and gasp for breath, but only more water sank in, choking me.

Precious seconds passed.  I strained my head back to look up at the light dancing across the surface of the water, so tantalizingly close and yet out of my reach.  In that moment, I thought, “This is it.  I’m going to die.”

However, God had other plans.

My little sister, Haley, miraculously noticed the thrashing and came to my rescue.  By the grace of God, I was saved.  In accordance to natural laws, I should have died, for we later discovered that the suction filter that was holding me was so strong that even my father could not break it.  And yet my little sister had been able to pull me free?  Everything became clear when we found the small piece of plastic that was stuck in my hair when I was pulled from the water.  It was in the shape of a cross. 

Finding this in my hair was one of the most surreal moments of my entire life.

That day changed my life.  In the moment of drowning, I realized how greatly I need a Savior.  While my sister may have been the instrument used by God, I know that I’m alive today because of a beautiful miracle.

The Lord pulled me up from the water in a way that has become analogous to my Christian walk.  I was destitute and broken, helpless and unable to save myself.  I went under the water one person and came out another.  Witnessing my life on the line helped me to understand baptism and the grace of Salvation, which is unmerited favor I have done nothing to earn.  Because I almost lost my life, I am now able to value its beauty and fragility.

Since then, I have grown closer to God and experienced Him in a more intimate way.  So though I am surrounded by oceans and pools and lakes, I now know that the only provision I need is Jesus, the living water.  He is my protector, my healer, my Savior—my lifeline.  He keeps me afloat in this world, where I’m drowning in my transgressions.  He brought me up from the water.  Now I am free.

I shouldn't be alive.

Sometimes I think about that and reflect on everyone I've met, everything I've done or experienced since age eleven.  None of that would have happened if my little sister had not been there at that precise moment.

We call it the It's A Wonderful Life complex — if she hadn't been there, I wouldn't be here.  She pulled me from the water like George Bailey pulled Harry...except this time, I was the older one who always wanted to be the hero, not the one saved.  What a humbling reality.

Yesterday I wrote a poem for my little sister about the beautiful irony of our story.  I'd like to share it with you all.

Borrowed Breath

When I was young, I played with a stethoscope
someone gave me once.
Other children liked to flirt with danger
But I played with what could save.
My baby sister was my patient
and her patience eclipsed my own.
Let me save your life, I’d say
and lift her shirt to press
the thirsting metal to her pink flesh.
Breathe. Breathe.
In and out.
You’re well, all set.
I was always doctor, always ready, always stronger.
     What childish pride.
     How could I know I’d be the one 
     to have almost died?
The little one, she saved my life
And to her I am indebted.
Breathe, Breathe in this unowned life
With breath I have now borrowed.

Your breath is not your own.  It's a gift.  It's a miracle filling your lungs with every hour — how easy it is to take for granted that which has always been there.  But what about when the air is threatening to leave, when that which is absolutely necessary is now wavering, teetering, questioning?  What about when the water is enclosing upon you, when escape seems impossible, when all you see is blue and all you want is to indulge your aching body with the sweetness of air?

Where is your lifeline?  You only get one.


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  1. Amazing and inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing this.


    1. Thanks Alexa! I see you have a new blog, I'll have to go and check it out!