How Am I Still Alive

By Jenny Fulton

Originally Posted in the Faithwriters Challenge

Topic: Jump in With Both Feet

Level: Masters

_ _ _

Sometimes I look back on my life and wonder, “How am I still alive?”

-February 2008-

Koh Phi Phi Island, Thailand

I was a petite, landlocked Kansas girl. Camille was a lifelong international traveler and certified scuba diver. We were elementary teachers at an international school in China and were enjoying our Chinese New Year break in warmer weather.

Most of the time we lounged on the beach and read books. But one day, we decided to take a day trip. After incredible views from rock climbing followed by snorkeling in a vibrant new world, a Thai fisherman in a small canoe took us out on the open ocean toward another small island.

We hadn’t journeyed far when we came upon some cliffs.

How high were they? 20 feet? 30?

“You want jump?” the guide asked.

Really?

I smiled and nodded. Adrenaline rushed through my body at the mere thought of it.

“Swim there.” He pointed to the far side of the cliff where a crudely constructed ladder hung.

“Swim?” We were in deep water. Were there sharks?

“Yes, swim. No boat that close. You want to go?”

I looked at Camille for support. She shrugged and laughed. “I’m not going but you can if you want.”

My sense of adventure couldn’t resist.

I plopped out of the canoe and swam over, doing my best not to think of what creatures might be swimming below and around me.

The ladder was slimy and wet, and I had to lunge upward to grasp hold of it.

Using every ounce of strength and grip in my arms and legs, I slowly climbed to the top of the shorter side of the cliff. Once I gained my footing, I realized I’d gathered an audience – three boats full of other tourists from various countries. They were shouting up at me.

 “Are you going to jump?”

An inclined trail led me to the jumping point.

“She won’t jump.”

I inched over to the launching station and looked down…

My heart pounded.

“Jump!”

“She’s not going to jump!”

I couldn’t back down. Besides, climbing down was probably riskier than jumping.

“It’s going to hurt really bad if I hit the water with any part of my body other than my feet,” I realized.

This wasn’t a comforting thought, but it was a realistic one and served to focus my mind.

“Help me, God,” I prayed. “I know I got myself into this, but would You please protect me and help me get out of it?”

I stared down at the water again and found an especially dark patch. Darker meant deeper, right?

“Keep your body tight and straight,” I told myself.

I gazed down upon my fans, took aim at my target, and jumped.

It took several seconds for me to hit the water, and I kept my eyes open until the very last moment. I wanted to see the view on my way down.

Cheers accompanied my descent.

I’d done it.

The impact of hitting the water took me by surprise, but I was otherwise unharmed, or so I thought.

When I climbed back into the canoe, I realized my leg was bleeding. I’d probably scraped it on the ladder.

“Do you have any Band-Aids?” I asked our guide.

He shook his head no and reached for an unused cigarette and water bottle instead. After unrolling the cigarette and dumping its contents into his hand, he instructed me to pour water on the powder. Then he mixed the two together and spread the concoction on my injury.

While he was administering this unique form of first aid, several people from one of the other boats made their way to the jumping point.

The first to go was a petite girl who looked smaller than me.

I’ll never forget that sight.

As her body fell unhindered through the air, it folded in half. She slammed into the water tailbone first.

And the question plagues me, “Would she have jumped if I hadn’t?”

-Present Day-

As a single woman, I was accustomed to barreling headlong into any opportunity I pleased while asking God for His blessing and protection in my choices. Now, as a wife and mother of three young daughters, I’m learning to wait on God’s timing and direction before I commit. Other than my moments of recklessness, I rejoice in the life God gave me then and am so thankful He protected me so I can enjoy the blessings He’s given me now.

_ _ _

Edited to Add:

  • The last I saw of the other girl who jumped was her friends working to help her out of the water. One friend jumped in from their boat, and another jumped off the cliff (and was fine). She seemed to be moving as they helped her onto the boat. The others who’d gone up the cliff opted to climb back down rather than jump.
  • My leg healed quite well from the fisherman’s treatment. It didn’t even scar.

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