Summering in the Hamptons used to be one of my favorite family traditions. There’s nothing like it’s cool, sandy beaches to defy the summer’s heat. My sister Kelly and I would always swim race. Whoever could go the farthest was the winner and she, being tall, slender and a professional swimmer, would always win. It never stopped me from trying to beat her, no matter how many times I was destined to lose, until one day I took it a step too far.
She had been mocking me all morning and I couldn’t wait to hit the beach and teach her a lesson of a lifetime. It was the one time I decided to push past my motor abilities and went deep into the sea. Out of the blue, my thigh started cramping and it was unwilling to cooperate. I did the one thing I now know I was never supposed to do; I panicked. I looked around me and realized I was all alone. Kelly was already swimming back to shore and was far beyond my cries of help.
There was nothing but me, the vast sea and my will to survive.
I never thought of myself as a man of faith, but at that moment my silent prayers could scream volumes. If ever there was a time that I wanted to be alive, this was it. There were so many things that I’ve yet to do. There were so many words I’ve yet to say. There were so many dreams I’ve yet to fulfill. It was what made me push past the pain to break the surface of the water for just one more breath. All I needed was another gulp of air before the waters pulled me back into its miseries again.
No matter how many times I’ve tried to kick myself up, the fear of drowning managed to consume my limbs, using up whatever oxygen was left in my body. I could feel the pulse quickening in my ears despite the paralytic state I was under. I had lost all contact with the surface of the water and my sight was dimming; slowly fading away. The last thing I remember was the burning sensation that coursed through my lungs as it all went black.
Never have I imagined that eleven years later I would be experiencing a situation a million times worse than that.