Fear is everywhere. Fear will strike when you least expect. Fear reminds you how quickly things can change.
In the wetlands, in a wildlife reserve near my home, fear struck me.
My sister and I played there. We would slide on the frozen stream. It made a path through the snow covered wilderness. A path that we thought would be fun to walk along.
Fear stole my memory. Not all of it. Only enough that I can piece together what happened without fully knowing.
It lasted forever, while only lasting seconds.
The stream was frozen solid where we started. We could see it all the way to the bottom. I assumed since it was such a shallow stream the entire thing was completely frozen.
We walked along, laughing as siblings do. She was in front of me. Fear wanted it that way. Fear wanted me to see everything.
I do not remember the ice cracking. I do not remember any sound beside my sister screaming. She went down. The water underneath the ice went over her head. I felt so far away. I ran toward her. I went in as well. My memory is so choppy. I know I was in the water, but I do not know how I got her out. In getting her out my feet went deep into the mud below. I got my feet free. My memory will not tell me how I got out of the water.
My sister was crying. She is obviously in shock. My dad was skiing nearby, so I yelled for him until he came. It felt like hours of waiting. I feel warm. Finally, he came and carried her to our house and I walked along. I feel horrible. How could I let this happen? I'm supposed to be smarter than that. I had failed by letting it happen.
That day taught me what my worst fear is. It is not the fear of ice breaking, or the fear of death. It is the fear of failing someone I care for.
It changed me. I strive to keep myself physically fit enough to handle an emergency. I became a lifeguard at a summer camp. Watching the kids swim and play, I have the same fear as seeing my sister fall.