George CookP. ½ Drowning in Fun Throughout my life my mother had always said “The river is not your friend” and told me to “Never trust the river”.
That is what I believed until I started to grow up and ignore my mother advice. I became too careless in the river and it almost cost my little sister and myself our lives. Without this life changing experience I would more than likely still be acting without caution. Just recalling this memory is enough alone to make me act safely.
The time this all occurred was a sweltering day in late July and the morning of that day was extremely normal and boring. I woke up coated in a thick layer of sweat around 11:30 on a soaked and half-inflated air mattress. Even though the mattress wasn’t too comfortable and it was covered in sweat, I layed there in a sleeplike tance until my mother forced me to get up and eat.
This average morning relaxed me into a sense of security, which is what caused the incident. As I was eating my blueberry poptart, my brother, Jack, and his girlfriend, Bri, arrived. They came from Ashland to visit for the day and I was fairly excited because we were planning on what to do for the day. My Dad suggested rafting which everyone agreed to, including my little sister, Ella, who had just appeared from her room. We all loaded our inflatable rafts into the truck and got in for the ride to the drop off spot. Originally the plan was for Jack and Bri to go together with Jack navigating the raft and for me to go by myself, so I was surprised when I was told Ella would be coming with me. I objected to this because it didn’t want to paddle another person, but before I knew it she was sitting in the front of my raft and ready to raft down the river. The river atmosphere was calm and relaxing, and it appeared to have a slow current but in reality the current was strong and pulled everyone down the river at fast pace.
The four of us who were rafting laid in relaxation as the invisible current dragged the rafts down the river. After some time had passed the rafts began to approach the first set of rapids. The first rapids were fairly large, but due to countless times of going through them we all knew what to do.
We all paddled towards the left side of the river and went through the rapids. The time it took to get through the rapids was extremely short, and the rafts shot out of the rapids and back into the calmer part of the river. The part of the river that we had gotten to was the calmest part during the entire trip. The rafts lazily floated down river, and the rafts were moving so slowly that we had to paddle so we could be home by dinner. About ten minutes later we reached the next set of rapids. At first glance they seemed like typical rapids, but that wasn’t the case. The water was particularly low so there were more rocks to avoid, which made it a lot harder to navigate before and during the rapids.
Jack and Bri raced into the rapids, followed by my sister and myself. The raft I was in was hard to control with a second person so the raft almost went through the rapids sideways. To avoid this I forced the paddle into the water to turn quickly, but the paddle was ripped from my hands a pulled away from the raft. My sister luckily didn’t notice the paddle floating away, but she did realize that we were heading towards the biggest wave in the rapids and began to scream. Using my Hands I turned the raft as much as I could before we got to the wave and then told my sister what to do if we flipped. As I explained what to do if we flipped the paddle which I had lost earlier began to float past us, and my sister screamed the loudest she has ever screamed in her life, and she is a very loud little girl.
The raft dropped into a small indent in the river before hitting the wave, and it was this indent that almost flipped our raft. Normally the type of raft I was in flips from the sides, but this particular time the raft went straight up into the air and started to tilt back on to my sister and I. For the first time I was truly terrified and I thought I couldn’t do anything to stop the boat from flipping. I just leaned forward before the boat reached its peak and it began to fall back down. The raft made a loud and crisp slapping sound as it hit the water, and I was so relieved that the raft did not flip. My heart was beating quickly but I continued to paddle as best as I could through the rapids without the paddle.
I saw a flash in the corner of my eye and when I turned to look I saw the paddle nearing my raft. I reached out for the paddle, almost flipping the boat for a second time, and grabbed it. With the paddle I was able to numbly maneuver away from anymore obstacles. When we finally reached the end of the rapids I explained to my brother what happened and we laughed it off, even though I was truly terrified of the incident. The entire incident could have ended a lot worse, so in the end I am grateful that my sister and myself were not injured.
After this experience I began to be more careful with my life, and I also began to be more careful around others. It is hard to capture in words what it felt like to me and that is why to some people it seems like a minor occurrence. But this somewhat near death experience caused me to become a better person.
All in all while it was terrifying in the moment, I am somewhat glad it happened because it gave me a new way to pursue the values of life.