Death is an unfortunate part of life. Especially for the friends and family of the departed. I have been to 4 funerals in my life. Each one has devastated me for weeks after. It almost puts me in a trance like state. I think we all think about what would be the best and worst way to die. Many of us have a very natural fear of what it will be like. I certainly did until I had two near death experiences.
I grew up on a lake. I few doors down from my house, there was a bar called the Gold Nugget. At one point I lived above that bar with my mom and brother until it burned to the ground. I’m sure I will be writing about that in the future. Another way my step father literally saved my life. Anyways, they did para-sailing from the bar because nothing goes better with alcohol than parachutes! I would spend hours on my pier watching the boats pulling people through the sky hanging from them. What else was I gonna do while I was roasting in the sun drenched in olive oil getting my tan on. I begged my parents for years to let me go. So finally when I was 14, they told me if I beat a certain time in a 5K that weekend, they would take me. Well there is nothing I like better than a bribe, goal or a triple dog dare, so you bet your sweet ass, I was gonna beat that time. And I did.
So we headed down to the “Nugget” as the locals called it, and I was ready for action. I was the first person to go up that day. Basically, they put a parachute on you and attach ropes to a harness on your chest. You stand on a moving barge and there is a boat that travels at the same speed in front of you. The boat picks up speed and you go up in the air…most of the time. Not this time. The boat took off and there was too much slack in the line and I flew off the side of the barge . I smashed into the side of the barge and then was drug underwater by my chest completely vertical for what seemed like an eternity. I’m sure it was only a few seconds, but those seconds were action packed. You always hear people talking about their lives flashing by in near death situations and its totally true. Everything that had ever happened in my life flashed before me really fast yet almost in slow motion. It was truly surreal. I must have been in shock because I don’t recall a time in my life when I was ever felt that peaceful and relaxed. I remember thinking, this is it. I’m gonna die. And I did not want to die, but I felt ok about it in that moment. I didn't feel a thing until some dude grabbed me and pulled me up onto the barge. Then I was choking on water, I had a huge cut on my leg and my neck and back hurt from bending in a way it shouldn't.
After I settled down a little bit and stopped crying, the guy on the barge says “Well you ripped the parachute, but don’t worry, we have another one. We’ll get you in the air in no time.” Going up was the LAST thing I wanted to do in that moment. My pride got the best of me. So there I stood on that barge watching that boat take off in front of me. As I watched the rope uncoil I thought, why aren't you stealing beer from your parents like the rest of your friends right now, and up I went. I have never been so more terrified in my life. It’s strange when I thought I was going to die, I wasn't the slightest bit scared.
This experience and another one I will write about later, took away my fear of my eventual death. It also eased the pain of losing people I loved a little bit. I hope they felt no pain or fear and were at peace. I miss them every day.