The Sand Helmet
Stepping onto the beach I feel the hot sand between my toes. Walking closer to the water the cool mist of the Atlantic Ocean brushes my face and I take a deep breath of salty air. With my sister by my side, I feel refreshed by the scene before me—I’m thinking this is definitely doing to be a trip to remember.
While the rest of my family settles into the beach house, my sister Becca and I decide to test out the water. Considering neither of us had been to the beach in about six or seven years, a knot starts to form in my stomach just thinking about getting in right away. As a child, I remember the waves being a lot smaller, although I knew they would be substantially bigger than usual due to the hurricane that was brewing in the ocean near the East coast.
As Becca and I start to ease our way in, the lukewarm water rushes over my feet and up to my ankles. The waves break right on the shore over and over, each time with greater force. Just then I hear quick footsteps coming up from behind me. As I begin to turn, my second oldest brother Cody, runs past me and dives through the waves with extreme ease and I feel a jolt of excitement shoot through me; I decide to go for it.
My heart pounds relentlessly as I wade deeper and deeper into the water. Ducking under the waves continuously coming at me, I feel the power and force of the ocean. Just as all of the excitement is welling in me, my sister yells from a distance, “Kate, I’m going in, I’m tired.” An image of Jaws flashes in my head and I quickly decide to follow my sister’s lead and go in. I begin to swim to shore when I realize that another set of large waves are coming in and I am right in their break. As I turn to look back towards the ocean, I see a huge wave about to crash right on top of me. My mind races and as a last chance effort I attempt to dive through the wave…but it’s too late and I know it. I get scooped up by the wave, then slammed onto the ocean floor, and thrown into what my family likes to call the “washing machine,” spinning every which way. My body thrashes around and around. My chest burns and feels like it’s on fire because I can’t get any air. I start to panic because I can’t find the surface. After what seemed like an eternity, I feel my feet scuffing the ocean floor and I quickly stand up until my head breaks the surface, gasping for breath. I feel a searing pain as air fills my lungs, while my heart continues beating out of my chest. I scrape my hair away from my face, finally managing to focus my eyes and look at the beach. Becca is just standing there staring at me in shock. I try to yell but am too out of breath—no words will come out. Just as I start to regain my composure, I catch a glimpse out of the corner of my eye at the next wave about to crush my small five foot three inch frame.
The second wave is just as bad, if not worse than the first. I am thrown back into the “washing machine” for another cycle. The grains of sand grinding against my skin feel like sand paper. Feeling the scrapes forming all over my body, I know I will be hurting tomorrow. When I finally re-surface, I stand up dizzily, trying to wipe the water out of my red eyes and then spit salt water and sand from my mouth. I notice that the ocean claimed one of the elastic bands from my braids as a casualty. And as if I haven’t been through enough, I suddenly notice my swimming suit top has completely fallen down! Grabbing my top, I yank it up over my chest.
As I walk out of the water trying to catch my breath, I can’t help but exclaim (somewhat under my breath), “holy sh**!” Could it get any worse? As it so happens, yes it could. I look up in time to see two teenage boys standing on the beach with their mouths wide open, staring at me. At that point I don’t even care that my top is practically falling off and that I’m shouting obscenities.
I approach Becca with one hand holding my top up, the other grasping my braid that is (unbeknownst to me) no longer intact while sporting a sweet “sand helmet.” Becca starts laughing hysterically as I stagger towards her. I say, “Why didn’t you come in and help me?! I almost died out there!” She is laughing so hard that she can’t reply to my question. “I lost one of my elastics, do you have another one?” I say, still hoping my braid can be salvaged. “Kate, look at your hair, the braid is gone. The wave ripped it out!” she replies, while still laughing at my near-death experience.
Together, with Becca still laughing, and me still holding the hair where my braid used to be, we walked up the beach and back to the house. I begin to notice a sharp pain in my right knee every time I put any weight on my right leg. Later that night my knee becomes stiffer and stiffer and the pain becomes sharper and sharper.
During the night, I try and roll over to make myself more comfortable but my knee is so stiff that I can’t move it. I lie there in intense pain grasping my knee. I try to straighten it but my knee resists and I feel more shooting pains. At this point, I know there is something seriously wrong with my knee.
The next morning I have serious difficulty getting out of bed. I hobble down the stairs and gingerly set myself down onto the couch. My mom looks at me and asks, “You really can’t walk on it?” I shake my head and start to feel anger and frustration rise in my chest. My sister-in-law, Celia, gives me a sarcastic smile and says, “Well, I guess you shouldn’t have been swimming on the Sabbath.” It suddenly dawns on me as I look up at her that I went swimming on a Sunday. We had been so busy traveling and getting settled in that none of us realized that it was Sunday. I knew that I wasn’t supposed to swim on Sunday but I had done it anyway. I vowed from then on never to swim on the Sabbath again!
The ironic thing is, I broke my collarbone while riding on a tube behind our snowmobile, driven by my careless brother Scott... on a Sunday.
Don't worry, I've learned from past experiences and DID NOT swim in the ocean on Sunday while we were in Hawaii a few weeks ago.
A Hawaii post to come...