Late Monday night one of my nightmares came true but someone else lived it. Jonathan Leber’s single engine plane crashed in the icy waters of Lake Michigan and the poor soul was never found. A feeling of horror nestled in my heart and an evil voice whispered in my ears that my fear of a watery grave isn’t really that far fetched.
Having flown over large bodies of water – seas, oceans and this gigantic beauty of fresh water called Lake Michigan I have always felt twinges of unease. Looking down at the vast body of water through the tiny window of the plane I’ve always remembered movies like Jaws, Airport, Anaconda, shipwreck movies, crocodiles infesting friendly lakes etc
It is a pattern that I would re-live even when dipping into the swimming pool. I have an aversion to the deep end of the pool and would stay at the shallow end with little kiddies paddling around me. A number of times I’ve got looks from these little tadpoles clearly saying – Aren’t ya too old to wallow like a buffalo on our side of the pool? Clearly, they don’t like an adult invading their territory.
Jacuzzis make me breathless and what’s even more shameful is that I have trouble under the shower. But it gets worse when it is time to use hair conditioner. The water here is kind of hard and while I’m trying to rinse off the conditioner under the spray of water the thoughts that run in my mind are simplistic in nature- breathe, don’t forget to breathe.
Am I a step away from being hydrophobic? I do not know. A believer in after-lives once suggested that I may have had a water related death in my previous life, another new age believer would have me go under hypnosis to get to the root cause of my fear and yet another- a swimming coach would rather I just jumped off a board into the deep end of the pool and swam my way back to the shallow end.
Humor aside, I wasn’t really thinking about my fear of water but the feeling of hope that the young man had clung to when he had decided to swim for the shore. I wondered what his last thoughts were before the lake closed her arms around him in an icy embrace and pulled him down.
I felt sad that he died alone and hoped that he was able to find some comfort in his faith. Was this the ultimate acid test of his faith? I do not know. Some might see it that way as he was planning to be a missionary. But, to think that he had finally come to rest in the arms of his maker is cold comfort to those who loved him and grieve for a young life so ruthlessly cut short.
Death will blanket us in its shroud sooner or later, none of us can escape this hard truth and despite knowing this inescapable reality we are unable to detach ourselves from its grim arrival when it takes away our loved ones, our acquaintances or even extends it’s non-negotiable invitation to us personally.
Or is death just another way of making us realize how transient our lives are? Maybe tragedies such as these make us hold our loved ones a little tighter for the moment before the amnesia of daily life engulfs us and makes us feel immortal.