IVP - Strangely Dim - On the Near-Death Experience of My Wife

September 3, 2004

On the Near-Death Experience of My Wife

By David A. Zimmerman

My wife and I have a running speculation that one of us is going to die young--she thinks it's me, and I think it's her. Neither of us can explain the reason for our speculation; it's a shared, gut instinct that we both hope we're wrong about. But it's there, nonetheless. So, when she comes home late after a meeting, I worry that she's been in an accident. When I don't call to tell her I made it to Michigan, she worries that I never made it to Michigan.

This past summer we got our closest yet to seeing this proto-prophecy fulfilled. We took a lazy river tubing trip on the way home from my parents' house. The river, incidentally, was by no means lazy. The current separated me from my wife, and she went dashing into a thicket of trees, where she was separated from her tube and her life jacket.

I fought my way to the other side of the river, where I could do nothing to help her except shout silly pep talks. She sat silently, grasping on to a large branch both to keep herself from going under and to keep the branch from beating her senseless. Finally a man in a canoe got to her, and she got herself free.

Now, the thing about tubing with the current is that once you commit to the route, you're committed to the route. We couldn't get to our car from where we were; we had to get back in the river--barely two miles into our six-mile trek. Four more miles of tubing and fighting the impulse to never enter the water again, and we were back safe at our car for another ten hours of dreaded cross-country driving.

I wonder how much of my panic that day was for Kara's sake, and how much of it was for me. Imagine driving ten hours alone after witnessing the death of a loved one. Imagine telling your friends and family about the senseless death of someone you and they love. Imagine suddenly recalibrating every detail of your life from two people to one person. That's what I narrowly avoided that day. But then again, that's the deal: once you commit to the route laid out for you, you're committed to the route.

Part of the journey of faith is trusting our Guide through its twists and turns and sudden tragedies. During their exodus from Egypt to Canaan, the fledgling people of Israel had only the food that God provided them, only the water God brought them. They had to walk and keep walking, and every once in a while they had to come to terms with the fact that some of them--from their whiniest gripers to their fearless leader--would not complete the trip. The generation that entered Canaan first had to bury the generation that left Egypt. But they committed, for better or for worse, to the route, and history has proven their route to be worth the trip.

Neither my wife nor I has stared down death since her near-drowning, but we have greater confidence now that at least she could if she had to. And I've been working on some new cheers from the sideline, since I'm apparently good for little else in an emergency: "Go, Kara! Hang on tight! God will save you from your plight!"

That's all I've come up with so far, but it's better than nothing.

***

I'm in the Library of Congress!

I'm on Amazon.com!

I'm on InterVarsity Press Online! Oh . . . wait . . . so are you!

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at September 3, 2004 7:50 AM Bookmark and Share

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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