Saturday, 23 April 2016
I was 12 when I died...
I met Susan in Bangkok soon after I moved here, she's helped many people through transition at the end of life. It's not a job you see advertised anywhere, and I guess you're just lucky if you know someone like that when it's your turn. We started talking about death because we had both died and come back, and even though the circumstances were different, the experience had striking similarities.
I was twelve when I died.
My Mother had sent me to the local swimming pool with Ena, a girl a few years older, who was going to look after me. I'd never seen a public swimming pool before or any large expanse of water with people in it. I got changed in the men's room, and Ena told me she'd meet me by the side of the pool. When I came out the pool was packed, chaotic, with people diving and splashing everywhere. I didn't know what it was to 'tread water', all I knew was that one end of the pool had a lot less people in, and it couldn't be very deep because smaller kids than me had their heads above water.
I jumped in! I remember holding my breath as long as I could, and I could see all the feet kicking in the water above me, but the shock alone caused me to inhale very quickly. When you inhale water, it's not like when you drink water and it goes down the wrong way, and you cough and splutter until you're clear. You start to breath the water, like it's thick air, like you're back in the womb I guess. I wasn't panicking, it was really peaceful, but over several minutes, I was slowly drifting into unconsciousness. The feeling was serene, peaceful, beautiful and yes, even at 12, my life started to 'flash before me'. Maybe when you're older, it takes longer to drown?
Drowning is a great way to go if you want to end it all, take my word, but be sure, because you don't want to go through revival, which is what happened next. Apparently, someone saw me, lifeless at the bottom of the pool, and everyone started screaming, like I was a shark! The lifeguard pulled me out, dumped me on the edge of the pool and then started what lifeguards are there for, saving my life, bringing me back. First he pumped as much water out as he could before starting on my heart, and at first there was no response. After what he described as 'ages', I exploded, gasping for air, filling my pants and struggling to fight everyone off until I could be calmed. Coming back was far worse than dying, that's for sure.
So it was when Susan said at the end of a recent article..."living is the tough stuff, dying is easier", I was prompted to share that experience.
I'd also like to share what Susan said, when describing being with someone who is nearing their end in this life...
"One thing I have learned is, you never know quite what you'd do until you get there. Plus, what your family, friends, or medics expect from you. Also, how you'd react if it were your loved one. For myself, I'd like to think that I'd take the least invasive route, meaning no intervention as much as possible, plus as much pain meds, comfort, whiskey, and irreverence, fun, and loving time together. The people I transition with are not all Christians, some have faith to go, others do not...we are all different. What I find very important is to respect people's rights to live and to die as they feel best. Also, supporting, loving, and caring as they make their choices, which often change along the way. There is loss, grief, even horror when you see people truly suffer. Life and death can be messy, but they can be more than equally beautiful. It's raw, it's real, it's amazing....you have no idea until you've cleaned up endless vomit, shit, body fluids, tears, fears, anger, pain, regrets, and come to a place of love, joy, peace and absolute beauty....but yes, myself, having died already, I know living is the tough stuff, dying is easier, or was for me. I long for that place again, but I love life, and hold onto it while I have the gift of it..."