From the very moment we are born, we begin to die.
There are a thousand ways to die and each of us may die a thousand times in our lives… only to survive and find a way to live again.
My mom used to say that I was “wise beyond my years” or “an old soul, trapped in a child’s body”. As a child, I didn’t really know what that meant, but now, as an adult, I can clearly see how true a statement it was.
I was just 4 years old when I died for the very first time.
My family and I were at a pool party, one of their many attempts to fit in and make peace with their marriage which was, obviously, “on the rocks” at the time.
I was floating in the swimming pool, unsupervised by any nearby adult. I slipped through my inner tube and sank to the bottom. I watched the bright pink circle of my flotation device grow smaller and smaller above me, my vision blurring as the chlorinated water stung my eyes.
At first, I was not so scared. I’d seen so many cartoon movies about mermaids and magic and the ability to breathe under water. But, until I took that first breath of water into my lungs, I never realized that magic and mermaids… well, they’re just not real – and so I began to fight.
I kicked my legs and flailed my arms, envisioning myself swimming to the top and emerging like a dolphin up and out of the ocean. How proud, of me, my parents would be! But the harder I fought, the more exhausted I became. By my third breath of water, with the surface just shy of my outstretched arm, I remember thinking rather calmly: “I’m about to disappear.”…and, just like that, it all faded to black.
There are a lot of theories about who rescued me that day – not that I know for sure, I’ve blocked it all out.
Some say that it was the dog next door who barked, agitated by the rippling of the pool water, lapping over the side.
Some say that my partying parents finally looked over at the swimming pool, remembered that they had a daughter, and realized she was no longer sitting there.
Some say that it was me – that I thrashed my way to the surface, paddled my own way out… right into the outstretched arms of a “responsible adult”.
I’m not so sure.
Maybe I never really made it out of that pool at all?
Maybe I’ve been a ghost, all these years?
And that would make sense because, for the remainder of my adolescent life, none of them seemed to ever hear me or truly see me at all.