We’ve lived in Frankford for over 4 years now and I’ve never felt a desire to go swimming in the Trent River even though there’s a beach within walking distance of our house. I’m a strong swimmer, but I don’t like water with a current in it. My dislike increases with the strength of the current and the size of the obstacles in the water and this river has a pretty swift current with lots of large rocks everywhere. Yet, yesterday, July 13, 2013, marks the second time I’ve gone into the Trent River this year. I do not have any plans to make this a regular event.
So why did I choose, on purpose, to go back into the river? This venture into the river was for no one other than me. Last time, it was for someone else. This time it was in daylight so I could see what I was walking into and where I was going. Last time it was very dark and there were moments when I couldn’t see anything. This time the water was cool but refreshing. Last time it was frigid and deadly. This time I was relaxed and calm. Last time I was frantic and desperate. This time it was at the beach where it’s pretty safe to be in the water. Last time it was in a spot that was difficult to enter and exit the water and definitely not a spot to go for a swim. Are you getting it yet? It’s the same river, same water, same person, and yet, two completely opposite experiences.
I went in this time for myself, mostly symbolic, and a little just to physically show myself that being in a river can be a positive experience – know it mentally and get it mentally, it’s just something I needed to do. I love water and I love swimming, especially in water that’s not full of chlorine.
This time I leisurely walked out into the river until it was just above my waist – the same depth as the last time when I wasn’t falling in the water. As I stood there, I prayed a prayer of thanksgiving. I thanked God for being with me the last time we were in the river together and for all that He accomplished. I thanked Him for my family and my friends and I once again told Him I was His. I thanked Him for the precious gift of life over and over again.
Yesterday’s venture into the river reinforced a few things for me. As I very carefully picked where I would step testing before putting my full weight down to make sure the rocks wouldn’t shift too much under my weight, I understood better why the bottoms of both my feet were so bruised back in February. I wore shoes this time, in February I was in sock feet. I couldn’t feel my feet in February because the water was so cold and I had no idea what I was stepping on because it was so dark. When you combine that with fighting against the water to remain standing, while moving as fast as possible to find Megan, how the bruising happened becomes obvious.
What was the same was the feeling of the current against my body and the sound of the water moving around me. I listened closely as I heard two adults at the beach discussing their surprise at how strong the current is even in the beach area of the river and then calling to their children warning them not to go into the water very far and I shuddered. I remembered the first time I took a bath after the accident in February, lying in the bath with my eyes closed relaxing and then moving my arm – just the sound of the water moving shot my heart rate through the roof. My eyes flew open and it took several minutes to calm down. The first shower, feeling the water running over my body, I had the same reaction – with my heart racing I grabbed the hand rail to steady myself.
I didn’t experience fear the night of the accident in February. The only way I’ve been able to explain what happened is that God’s presence literally enveloped me as I was making my way to get into the river and it was like a fear numbing anesthesia was put into place. Afterwards though, when that anesthesia wore off and the reality of the trauma that we’d been through set in, my fear levels were off the charts.
Truth be told, I’m still not over the terror or fear and I’m no longer sure that I will ever be. A few weeks ago now, Dan & I went to see a movie with some friends. We saw Man of Steel. The new Superman movie. I really can’t tell you much about what happened in that movie past the point where the school bus full of children careens off of a highway bridge landing right side up in a river. Seeing the horror on the children’s faces as the bus filled up with water – way too realistic for my liking. Don’t worry, nobody died. Superman, well actually in that scene he was still a child and not technically Superman yet, pulled the whole bus out of the river and saved everyone. Meanwhile, I began to physically shake – uncontrollably shaking. I spent the rest of the movie trying to look and act calm while trying to stop the shaking. By the end of the movie, I was still shaking. As we were leaving the theatre, one of my friends asked me if I liked the movie and my response was to burst into tears. Nice, really nice. Inside I was rolling my eyes at myself, telling myself to get a grip it was just a movie. My wonderful husband held my hand through most of the movie and after the movie never left my side or let go of my hand until he knew I was alright.
This is what my life looks like right now. Fine one moment, maybe fine for the whole day, and then seemingly out of the blue something or nothing will trigger a reaction in me. I’m not the only one who was there the night of the accident in the river on February 6, 2013 and I’m also not the only one still struggling with the aftermath.
So the trip into the river yesterday was and is my way of saying that I’m not giving up and I’m not giving in to fear. God was with us that night in February and He did amazing things to spare three lives that night. Each day is a precious gift and I’m committed more than ever to making each one count for the Kingdom of God. Am I walking perfectly, no, I’m walking wounded. Am I strong and brave, no I’m weak and terrified. But what I am and what I have, have been given to God for Him to use as He sees fit.
I hope this post helps someone today.
(for those who don’t know about the accident in the river that I refer to in this post, please see the about page on this blog)