There has only been one time in my life that I thought I was going to die. Actually, two times. One was in Dallas during one of my brother’s soccer tournaments. We were playing basketball with a soccer ball (because that was all we had) with some people in the parking lot of the hotel. All of a sudden, a car screeched to a halt and a man stepped out the car wearing a trench coat. I assumed he was there to kill us all.
He began some small talk and then reached into his trench coat. I was sure he had a gun. I guess he was just going for an itch or something, because then he picked up the soccer ball and tried to do some soccer juggling and then got in his car and left.
The other time I thought I was going to die was when my family lived in Trinidad and Tobago, an island off the coast of South America. We lived there for a couple years when I was in elementary school because my dad works in the oil business and got a job over there.
In Trinidad, there are two seasons: the rainy season and the dry season. Three or four days before we were scheduled to move back to Oklahoma, it started to rain really hard, harder than any Oklahoma rain I can remember.
In our backyard, there was a wall instead of a fence and behind that wall was a creek, and inside that creek were tiny little crabs. Except we didn’t really call it a creek because I think that’s an Oklahoma thing, it was more of a drainage ditch for all the rain. In fact, there was a hole in the lower part of the wall for the rain to flow out of the backyard and into the ditch. Stay with me here.
Before the rains started earlier that day, my brother and I were playing paddle ball in the backyard, hitting a ball slightly larger than a ping pong ball back and forth. When we did this, we jammed a coconut in the hole in the wall to keep the ball from rolling down into the ditch with the crabs.
Then the rains started. We noticed pretty soon that our back yard was flooding and then I remembered that the coconut was still lodged in the hole in the wall. I decided to play hero and remove the coconut from the hole to release the water into the ditch.
I had never been more scared in my life.
I ran out into the rain, the water in the back yard was at least ankle deep, but for the sake of story I will say I had to swim through some of it. I looked over at our swimming pool, it was overflowing. I removed the coconut safely but made the mistake of peaking over the wall to look into the ditch.
What was normally a small trickle was now a roaring river. I’ve seen the Mississippi River and it had nothing on that creek, this looked more like a Grand Canyon adventure. It made a sound I’ll never forget. About four feet above the water level, these cement slabs laid over the ditch. I don’t know what for, other than we used them as bridges to cross when we went exploring. The water had, no lie, risen to the cement slabs.
It was Saturday evening, and I remember it was Saturday because I was supposed to be baptized the next day at our church, and we were set to go home the day after that.
I was so scared that I was going to die, but even more scared because I hadn’t been baptized yet (keep in mind I’m eight years old or so) and thought I was going to hell if I indeed did die. I was a good little Baptist.
It was the scariest moment of my life. The fear of dying and the fear of never seeing America again, and the fear of hell. Man, I was a messed up kid.
The rain stopped eventually, and I was baptized the next day, and soon we moved back to Oklahoma. Now, every time there’s a heavy rain, I always remember the day that I thought I was going to die.
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