I was floating. The leaves on the gum tree slipped past. The top of the tree disappeared beneath me.
“This is not so bad,” I thought. The screaming desperation in my muscles evaporated. Bliss replaced it. “I am not sure where I am going… but I’m not scared anymore… and I am definitely not dead. Why am I not dead?”
I thought when I died I would go to sleep. Didn’t someone tell me that dying was just going to sleep? Where was the dark oblivion where I would not remember or be remembered? Where was the sleep I would not awake from? Somehow, I was definitely still here, and I was going… somewhere.
I had a sense of myself, still in the pool. Long blonde hair fanning out in the water, head submerged and neck locked between his knees. I was leaving me behind and going… somewhere. Where am I going? Over there?
Image: Angel to fly (III) by Dreamyana, DeviantArt
When he grabbed me and forced me under the water, I had fought to be free. At first in play, thinking that at any moment he would let me go and I would tell him it wasn’t funny… that he wasn’t funny. And then I realised he wasn’t playing. I fought with all my strength. I fought with everything I had. I fought for my life.
I thrashed and clawed at his legs with small desperate hands as the oxygen bust from my lungs in despairing bubbles. But my eight year old body was no match for his ten year old brutality, and I knew I was losing. There was no air left in my body. The bubbles stopped.
“I am going to die.” Fear left, replaced by certainty and acceptance.
I floated… in the water… and into the air. I left me behind.
“So this is what it’s like to die.” I said. I was peaceful. I was surprised.
… and so I just listened as the wind whispered gently high above in the leaves of the healing tree.
New York, a city bursting with impatient, aggressive people all desperate to stand in the next line and wait. I was bemused watching the ebb and flow of people. The mothers pushing their babies in prams into the oncoming traffic against the traffic signals. Cars rushing by, changing lanes without warning. Traffic management people standing in the road telling drivers they could NOT use a road. A diversion around the block adding a half hour to the journey. The air was filled with car horns, sirens and up-raised voices. While I was there, the ‘city that never sleeps’ never rested, nor took a quiet moment of contemplation.
And amidst the crazy chaos of angry people trying to get on with life, or tell others what to do, angels found me – a taxi driver getting me to my hotel from the bus station, the mother of a toddler who helped me get a metro card (and my bags) onto the subway platform, and a pixie-sized woman who came back to help me despite the disapproving glare of a transit policeman.
Life is full of blessings if you just take the time to notice. I had moments, of course, like the man who insisted I accept his phone number, telling me I had a beautiful smile. He could show me out-of-the-way places that tourists don’t usually see that are more beautiful than the regular tourist attractions, and it sent a shiver of fear through me to know I had been marked as a woman travelling alone in a strange city.
But, I also met a young Hispanic man joyfully blending fibres on a board, creating rolags and preparing to spin yarn of the most glorious hues. I found the Alice in Wonderland sculpture in Central Park – a gift of love from a man to the children of New York in the name of his beloved wife – and the children’s glee filled my heart to overflowing. I found a healing tree.
Soon it would be time… soon I would be in class with Dr Brian Weiss learning to become a past life regression therapist.
Image: Omega tree by Anne Marie McGlasson