Chiara Talluto

Author, Busy Mom, A Woman after God's Heart

The Very Next Thing…

Have you ever wanted to alter, reverse, or change an uncomfortable situation that you happen to be in?

Come on, can I hear a…Ah yeah!!!

Good. Me too. Plenty of times. It’s like a video reel of regret that plays continuously over and over in your head.

This last time was over the top. And, I’ll be honest, I’ve been having nightmares of would of, could of, and should of… only to awake in a drenched sweat and a thankful heart.

What appeared to be an innocent maneuver of fun had turned into a life threatening event. Vacationing in the warm water beaches of Florida, I had an opportunity to try Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) surfing. For those who don’t know what SUP is, here is a brief description:

“The fastest growing water sport in the world, stand up paddle boarding came from humble beginnings back in 2004 when it first touched down on U.S. shores. It’s now overtaking nearly every body of water in the world. You can do it in oceans, lakes, rivers, and bays – even a swimming pool if you so desire. It’s a great full body core workout, and it’s a whole new way to experience the water in the outdoors.”

I’ve never paddle surfed before. How hard could it be?

It was a free fifteen-minute trial. You see, three young twenty-something year-olds had just come back from paddle surfing, raving about their experience. The rental supervisor was waiting for them on the beach so that they could return the boards, when my husband struck up a conversation with the man. He graciously offered us a trial while he put the other boards back onto his truck.

My husband knowing I liked all things water-related, offered for me to try the paddle board. The man encouraged me as well.

“Yes, yes. You will like it. It’s easy,” he said.

No need for any arm twisting, I was eager to try it. The supervisor then demonstrated how to hold the paddle: one hand on top of the lever, and the other hand on the shaft. I wasn’t comfortable standing, so he suggested I kneel.

That day, the water was higher than the previous days we had on the beach. The breeze was pushing out toward the sea, and the waves were soft and airy as they splashed upon the sand.

I Velcro-strapped the paddle board leash to my ankle and hopped on the board. At that moment, there weren’t many people in the water, and I paddled smoothly away from land.

My husband snapped a few pictures as I glided out. My intention was to go out a bit, and then turn around. I’m a decent swimmer, but when the water is deep, I don’t like it much.

I looked back and saw I was still close to shore. My daughters were waving at me. Yes, I felt like a cool mom—Wonder Woman.

As the waves carried me out, I became overtaken by the beauty of the deep green color of the water. Soon, I was moving a little faster, and realized the “No Swimming” pole was coming up quick. I turned back and saw I had gone farther than I had anticipated. So, I began paddling to turn the board around.

It became obvious to me after a few seconds that I might be paddling the wrong way—I couldn’t remember what the man had told me. Soon, the pole was inches from me, I quickly jabbed the pole with my paddle to push-off of it and swing around, instead the board bumped right past it.

I glanced over my shoulder and saw my husband, getting tinier and tinier and so I waved in panic for him. Oh Jesus, could he see me?

“Help,” I screamed.

But, I was too far away for anyone to really hear me.

I began to panic and so I paddled and paddled, but it was useless, I was being pulled out farther and farther into the deeper waters. Crap. I don’t like deep water! The paddle felt suddenly heavy. My heart was beating rapidly.

Got to breathe…Got to breathe…My kids! I got to get back to my girls. I have to try again.

And so, I plunged the paddle into the water and started paddling again. I have to do it right this time. Come on, damn it, come on…

It was eerily quiet out on the water. I couldn’t see my kids on the sand. Where did they go? Are they still safe? Shit!

I was all alone. Having two, beautiful, active daughters, I’m never by myself, and I’ve often craved “my alone” time. Well, I was getting it now, and suddenly I didn’t want to be alone anymore. I wanted my husband and daughters…I wanted my crazy, chaotic life back.

I needed help. And I needed help fast. I was insanely scared, and I started praying to God to save me somehow. Oh Lord, what have done? I’m so sorry. Sorry for how I’ve been toward my girls and my husband. Please, please, help me.

My help came via my husband— running into the water and swimming toward me. But gosh, he was so far away. How long would it take for him to reach me? Would he reach me at all?

Seeing him, gave me encouragement, and so I fought with the paddle, and I was able to rotate the board and head toward my husband and land.

We moved slowly toward each other in a breathless attempt to get closer and closer. And, when he reached me, exhausted, I jumped into the water, momentarily sinking but then frantically coming up for air and grabbing onto the board. Together, we gradually swam with the board toward shore.

The scary/sad part of this whole experience was that with at least twenty or so people in our surrounding area where we had our towels and umbrella, not one other person came into the water and helped.

I repeat…NOT ONE. NOT ONE DAMN PERSON. Even the rental supervisor wasn’t near the water. He was off loading the boards.

Maybe we didn’t look like we needed help, but I personally would have thought it odd to see someone floating on a paddle board going farther out, while another person swimming hastily toward them. Doesn’t that seem out of sorts to you?

Both of my daughters were thankfully safe. They stayed put under the umbrella, but they had been screaming hysterically. They had gotten frightened and thought my husband and I would never come back. Who could blame them? Seeing their father swim out to sea toward their mother who was drifting in deep water.

We tried remaining calm as best as we can as we swam back. When we got back on land; beat beyond belief, I tried smiling as best as I could and reassured the girls that all was okay.

“No big deal. Momma just paddled way too far. Papa is our hero and brought Momma back. See, we are all fine.”

But, inside my gut, I was shaking uncontrollably—wondering what could have become of me if my husband hadn’t come out?

We spent the rest of the day and evening talking to our children about the situation, keeping it light, but stressing the importance of “water” safety and for them to consider retaking swimming lessons again.

Lesson Learned—straight out of the mouths of babes: “Momma, don’t’ try something if aren’t sure how to do it, even if it was free.”

And, they were right. I let them down. I had panicked and that was what had gotten me in trouble. Had I laid on my stomach and paddled with my arms in the water instead of the stupid paddle, maybe it might have been easier to turn around and come to shore. Maybe I should have hopped off as soon as I knew I had gone too far, and just swam back? Maybe if…Maybe if…Maybe if…Too many “maybe ifs” to account for.

I was lucky my husband had come; I hadn’t even considered the threat of sharks (that’s another story altogether).

I praise God, for this second chance of life. I really, really do. This chance to make it right to the Lord, somehow in the …Very Next Thing…

What is it that He wants from me in my very next thing?

Now it’s your turn: What is God asking you to do in your very next thing?

NOTE: This blog was inspired by Casting Crowns:The Very Next Thing”.  Click here for video.

#verynextthing, #castingcrowns, #standuppaddleboardsurfing, #paddleboardsurfing, #amwriting, #writing, #secondchanceatlife, #thankfulheart, #gratefulheart.

References:

SUP – Stand Up Paddle Boards

https://www.islesurfandsup.com/sup-101/sup-beginners-guide/ (scroll down)

https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/paddleboarding.html

http://distressedmullet.com/2015/04/26/13-tips-for-stand-up-paddle-surfing-for-the-first-time/

http://www.towerpaddleboards.com/v/how-to-paddlesurf-videos.htm

https://greenwatersports.com/2494/10-tips-stand-paddle-boarding-beginners

2 Comments

  1. uWhew! Thank you for sharing your very scary adventure. I was frightened for you and your description was so visual for me that I could easily picture myself in your situation so I feel as though I was right there with you. I am so glad your hero came to your rescue and that all turned out well but that had to be harrowing and life changing even if only briefly. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Pam. Thanks for reading. I appreciate your well-wishes. Yes, yes, very scary. I still think of the “what ifs?” almost every day. Not too long after that happened, we were back in the water, trying to keep things cool in front of the girls – reinforcing safety about water levels, waves, undertow, etc. We played around a few minutes and then decided to get out. We came out just in time to only hear someone yell, “shark, shark, get out of the water!” No joke. It was a Bull Shark – a baby, non-the-less, about 2 and a half feet long. Stella my little one, got so freaked out, she literally bolted across the sand. And, that was the end of our day. Oceans are great, but more and more, there have been more sightings of shark all along Florida and up east coast. In California, it’s the worst near Santa Monica. So, be careful.

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