It was a typical drowning. I was four years old, just recently started Red Cross swimming lessons at the local pool. Just like the statistics it was at a crowded pool with no life guard. My mom took my sister and I to visit her friend Elane who lived in a trailer park and we all went to the pool.
My sister who is three years older than me swam like a fish. I remember watching her compete with her swim team. She was fast, maybe even the fastest but she never won. My mom wanted to root for her up close so she would stand at the other end of the pool and yell her cheers. My sister would stop at the end of the pool to talk to my mom making her lose every time. I never understood why my mom would continue to do that knowing my sister couldn’t help but to stop and talk to her. It’s still a mystery. I may just ask her one day out of curiosity.
I thought it was so neat how my sister would grab my moms legs and my mom would swim with her arms while my sister did the kicking. I wanted to try that so bad. I finally found the perfect opportunity at the trailer park. My mom had told me to stay on the stairs while she swam laps. My mom was one of those people who swam laps more as a relaxation than an exercise. She would not stop but do the underwater turn at the end of the pool and continue on her slow journey. My brilliant idea was that the next time she did the turn near me I would jump and grab her legs and in my mind I could see her swimming with her arms and me kicking for the both of us.
My plan didn’t seem so brilliant when I jumped and missed landing me in waters to deep for me to stand. I tried to swim but it didn’t work, I kept going back under just before I could catch a breath. I even tried calling my sisters name out but was cut short every time. I remember water splashing around me like a wall and the silent water beneath me when I tried to swim to the side. Then, I remember absolutely nothing.
It was when my mom finished her laps and got out and when the party going on ended and everyone left that my mom noticed the blue and purple body floating stomach up chin back, head submerged in the water. “Elane!” My mother screamed as she ran to the pool and through the water to fetch my lifeless body. She pulled me out of the water and laid me on the deck. A man came over to help her and a circle of curious on lookers began to form. Elane went to my hysterically sobbing sister Kari to comfort her.
It was 1974 and no one at the pool knew CPR. I had no vital signs so they turned me over and the man who came to help pounded on my back. My mother tried to open my locked jaw to get air into me but as I mentioned, it was locked.I remember her telling people about the bruises on the mans hands and on my back and her fingers.
Here is where my story gets shady. Since I was dead and not aware of what was going on I have to rely on what I was told by my mom as far as what happened. For years I hated recounting this story by myself or by my mother. Not because it was a bad memory but for reasons I didn’t understand. My dad passed away about 10 years ago and after his death I learned about a lot of lies he and my mother told us. Funny thing about that is that they made it very clear that telling lies was a sure way to hell and that no good ever came from them. They taught that and many other Christian values so well that I believed they lived by those values too. So, in light of realizing that my mom was capable of telling lies or twisting the truth to get her way I have to wonder as to how much of the story she told about my death was true. I am aware that she values respect as a Christian leader to an EXTREME. With this in mind I will tell you the rest of the story as I heard it all my life.
So, my jaw was locked… Out of pure frustration she finally said, “Lori, open your mouth or I’m gonna spank you.” My mouth fell open. She still didn’t know how to get air into me and hope was sidelining away. The circle of curious onlookers started leaving till all that was left was my mom, the man helping and Elane and Kari. My mom sat back on her knees and looked up into the heavens to pray. You see, my mom and dad had been separated for two and a half years and my dad had just recently come back home. My mom prayed something like this, “Lord Jesus, I know Lori will be happier with you, but her daddy needs her. Please bring her back.” Then I started breathing.
The ambulance finally came and the EMT’s saw that I could walk and asked me my name but I didn’t know it so they gave me an oxygen mask and soon I was aware and able to answer their questions correctly.
Now, back to my side of the story. I saw a light at the end of a dark tunnel and soon it got real big and then it turned out to be the sky and I was awake. I barely remeber the ambulance ride.
Back to my moms side of the story. The EMT’s told my mom they needed to take me to the hospital. She didn’t understand why sinse I was ok. They just insisted on it. She didn’t understand why they required I spend the night either. That night she felt very uneasy and spent the time on her knees praying for me.
The next day she, my dad and sister came to see me at the hospital. While they were talking with me the doc walked in and looked at them with an expression of anger then looked at me with an expression of shock. He explained to then that that year they already had three recovered drowning children die of shock in the night and he expected me to be the fourth. He was mentally preparing himself to find me dead and then to tell them that I had died. Thus the explanation for his expressions.
On the liter side…back to my side of the story. Curious George Goes to the Hospital was one of my favorite books. I especially liked the part where George visits the play room. The room was full of children doing different activities. George spoted the record player and soon he was balancing on the record that was spinning around and around much to the children’s delight. I always thought that would be just the funnest thing to do. When the nurse brought me to the play room I was delighted to see it was set up just like the one in the Curious George book. As I looked past all the children doing different activities I spotted it! I spotted the record player right where it was in the book with a circle of children sitting around it listening to a record. I made my way over to it, I planned to ride the record just like George did. I stood there for a moment contemplating just how I would achieve this plan of mine and realized the people watching us kids would never let me do that. I was so disappointed. I saw what looked like a dog house set up for the kids to play in and decided that would be a good place to sulk. Later a nurse came looking for me and found me sitting in the back of the dog house, she pulled me out and took me back to my room. I also remember the TV. Of course it was B&W and very had few stations, not much has changed. lol It was exciting to be in control of what I watched but then I learned there wasn’t anything fun on. I did very much like the jello!
I remember being put in a very large old fashioned looking bathtub and bathing when my dad walked in. I was very happy to see him but embarrassed when my Uncle Don came in behind him. My dad sent my Uncle out and tried to explain that I was just a little kid and it was ok. I still didn’t want any one else but my mom, dad and sister seeing me in a bath tub.
As time went by my mom would share my drowning story often. As I stated before something about it made me feel uneasy. I see now that some people would see a story like that as a validation. What I mean is, my mom wanted to be a spiritual leader. Telling how she raised me from the dead and how she knew to be prayerful all night and so on would tell folks to listen and obey her cause she has spiritual gifts. I’m not saying she doesn’t have spiritual gifts and one of them may be communicating with spirits, but that doesn’t aromatically make her a wise person or a leader. And if one is going to twist and lie to get attention and recognition then they will never learn true wisdom and how to properly use their gifts. It is good to admit you have a gift but you should stay in a spirit of humility in order to learn to use the gift to the best of it’s ability.
In the past it wasn’t just my mom recalling my drowning story that made me uneasy, it made me uneasy to talk about it myself as well. I wanted to talk about it cause I wanted to give glory to God for what he had done and I felt guilty for not feeling right about it. Now I understand why. Now I can tell the story with my honest disclaimer.
FYI, I did ask my sister Kari what she remembered. She didn’t recall much cause she spent most the time crying hysterically. She remember Elane comforting her, she remember a man there trying to help my mom, she remember the school bully Phillip walking in during the whole drama and ask her why she was crying and feeling embarrassed about her ugly swim suit. We both remember Phillip telling us later at school that he wished I died, he continued to bring this up for years. It didn’t bother us cause he was always mean like that.
I usually recount this story in short form to warn parents and guardians about the danger of having a four year old at a pool. My warning is still good. Please watch your children at the pool or around water. Children around the age of four who are good kids and obedient are especially in danger. I was one of the obedient “good” kids. What I did was not out of rebellion and it didn’t occur to me that I was disobeying. I thought it through and it seemed like a very good idea to me. Also remember, people have drowned in puddles so, shallow water is still dangerous. Never listen to people who say it will be Ok. Even good swimmers can drown. If something scares them and they panic they lose their reasoning and can drown. Don’t be fearful, Be Watchful!
There have been times more recently that I wondered if I really died or if that was made up as well. What makes me still believe that I did in actually die is what I saw as I woke back up to life. Most people who describe waking up from passing out say it is a lot like waking from sleep except their is often confusion, or blurred vision and maybe a headache,etc. I remember everything being pitch black and a very small pin hole light that suddenly became the sky and I was awake. It is much like the light at the end of the tunnel feel made reality.