Everyone falls at least once in their life. Whether it's out of bed, in love or down the stairs, everyone falls. I'm no exception.
I stood outside in the jittery cold, watching the sun as it began to set. I looked over at my best friend, Teryn, who stood next to me in line to enter the Starfield concert as I hopped around to keep warm. Her natural fire, red, hair fell around her wild green eyes as we laughed at things that thirteen year old girls laugh at. On the other side of me was my older sister, Elizabeth. She had short blonde hair, soft features and a pretty little smile. In my young mind, she was the closest to perfection that anyone was going to get. To make my weekend even better, I was getting baptized that Sunday.
Nothing can ruin this weekend I thought as we began to move into the church that the concert was being held in.
Walking in front of us, carrying their own conversation, were my father and Teryn's father. Yes, I occasionally go to concerts with my dad... but in my defence, I have a cool dad. I couldn't imagine that night without him being there.
It was the first time I had ever stood in a mosh pit ... though I didn't get to mosh much. Teryn and Laura stood on either side of me. Both of our fathers sat in the pews behind us. I felt thrills of excitement shiver down my spine as the lights dimmed and people began to press against us, pushing us toward the stage. I smiled as I watched five young men running onto the stage, throwing on their guitars.
"Hello Abbotsford!" the lead singer announced as the crowd cheered in response. The stage lights began to dance as the rumble of the bass vibrated my body and the first cord was strummed out. The first song was slow as the melody swayed the crowd back and forth. It didn't last long enough. The second song began. The drummer picked the beat up and the lights flashed on and off, leaving us in darkness for moments at a time. As the chorus got closer and closer the excitement in the atmosphere rose. The band struck the first cord of the chorus as the whole mosh pit jumped up and down, twice. That was all it took.
I looked up in confusion at the lead singer who screamed into his microphone, "Stop! Stop!" but it was too late. I looked down at the ground in horror as the floor crumbled beneath my feet. For a split second, I floated on air, until gravity pulled me down into the darkness, taking eighty other people from the moshpit along with it. I screamed as I free fell through the pitch black nightmare. A nightmare. Maybe that’s all this really was.
After I landed sitting down, I reached up and grabbed on to an unidentified object to pull myself up. It was still pitch black. As I stood up the lights came on and the sirens began to ring. A string of panic pierced me as I looked down to see Teryn sprawled out on the ground beside me. She had the most terrified look plastered across her face that I had ever seen on anyone. Her eyes were wilder than ever and her mouth was wide open in fear and shock. I reached down to grab her hand, helping her up and started running to get out of that big empty basement as fast as I could. I found myself hopping over bodies precariously lying on the ground as if I was a school girl playing hop scotch. I looked back to see if Teryn was following me. She wasn’t. Instead of seeing my best friend, I saw an enormous hole in the ceiling, which was allowing light to stream through. Dust filled the air, outlining a pile that seemed to almost reach the ceiling. Though I didn't realize it at the time, that pile consisted of jumbled people, pews, and speakers that had all tumbled into this basement of hell. The air was dry and the dust was so thick that it coated the insides of my mouth, leaving a musty taste.
The rest of the floor is going to fall was the only thought that was blaring through my mind as I darted my head around the room, looking for a way out. I spotted two girls running through a door that held an exit sign above it and followed them. Teryn and Elizabeth where anywhere but in my subconscious. All I was thinking about was what my eyes allowed me to see. All I just needed to get out. As I sprinted behind these girls through long hallways and up flights of stairs, I noticed that their white t shirts and blue jeans were smeared with blood. They weren't the only ones.
When I found my way to the the foyer of the church, I stopped for a moment to take everything in. It was purely the definition of chaos. The huge foyer was crammed with people going in every which way. Each one of them was in their own frenzy. Seeing so many unfamiliar faces made my heart beat even harder and my breath get even quicker. I scanned the room swarming with people who all seemed to be going in a different direction for anyone that held some sort of familiarity. I felt like a little girl who had lost her mommy in a grocery store, but ten times worse. Finally I decided that simply standing there wasn't going to help me, so I began to move forward. Peering into the sanctuary, I saw my dad walking toward the door on the other side of the room and took in a breath of relief before I began to push past people. When I met him on the other side, I ran into his arms before he grabbed my shoulders, and began pelting me with questions.
"What happened? Where’s Elizabeth? Where’s Teryn? Are you okay?"
"I don't know," was all I could moan as the first tears of the night spilled out of my eyes. I turned around to see Elizabeth and Teryn sliding past people to reach us. We wrapped our arms around each other in relief and fear. The three of us were just beginning to realize what had happened.
"Let's just go home," my dad said, as he took my hand. We said goodbye to Teryn and her father before my dad led us out of the church. When we walked outside, it was as if I had left a whole different world and was entering another one. It had gotten completely dark since the last time I had been outside. Ambulances with whirling lights had already arrived on the scene. People were huddled together, praying. I leaned against my dad's arm, squeezing his hand tighter as we walked through the darkness toward his car.
We went to McDonalds. I’m not sure why. Maybe Elizabeth wanted water. Before we went in, the three of us sat in the parking lot for what seemed like a very long time. We sat and Elizabeth sobbed. I sat alone in the back seat as I listened to her. Something in her broke that night. Although I didn't know it at the time, her heart had been filled with depression, abandonment, and mistrust from that year. That night, she let everything out in her tears. Even though it was a night of brokenness, I think it was the beginning of healing for her. I don't think I had ever heard my sister cry before that night. At least not since I was a child. All of a sudden she turned from this perfect older sister to a human being. I'm not sure if I had ever realized that she was one until that night.
After a long and silent car ride home, we traipsed into my house, letting my dad explain to my mom what had happened. I sat at the kitchen table watching my parents inspect Elizabeth, who was complaining that her arm was hurting. She had bruises and cuts all over her body. Before long, my dad took her to the hospital and I began to check myself for any damage. Nothing... well almost nothing. The only physical mark the accident left was a bruise the size of a quarter. Even in the worst of times, God seems to have a sense of humour.
I thought that I would go to bed. I was silly to think that I would be able to fall asleep after such events. But none the less, I decided to brush my teeth. As I pushed the toothbrush back and forth in my mouth, I looked up at my reflection in the long mirror that covered half of the bathroom wall. To my horror, I saw dried blood crusted across my arm.
"Mom!" I screeched. She came running to the bathroom.
"What is it?" she asked. I held out my arm in disgust and she wrinkled her nose. "Just wash it off," she suggested. My mom watched as I turned on the tap and washed the unidentified blood off of my arm in repulsion. I felt like I had been thrown into a CSI episode, though I had never even watched the show. There was something about being smeared with someone else's blood that changed me. I was sheltered as a child and didn't know much about the world or the events that were constantly being announced through media. I heard about tsunamis, earth quakes and car accidents, but I never thought about these tragedies as a reality. At thirteen, I was still a child who carried an innocence that many kids lose at a young age. But that night, I realized I was a victim of a terrible event and that there would most likely be many more to follow. News casts and radio announcements became so much more real and personal to me because I was once on the other side of the TV. I wasn't that carefree child that my family knew me to be anymore.
I lay in bed pulling my covers to my face as I looked up at my mother who was standing at my door with kind, yet tired eyes. Night time was the worst part of the entire day. It was when my mind was free to run wild and anxiety would come storming in without warning or welcome. Most nights I would lie awake for hours wondering if doors had been locked or hands had been properly washed.
"They think that your anxiety is due to the accident. Once you start taking the meds and work with the councillor for a bit, you'll start to feel better," she reassured me before she turned out the lights and left me lying in the darkness. I brought myself back to almost three years past, when I stood in front of hundreds of people who were neatly sitting in their rowed pews amongst the church I had grown up in. They were all staring down at me, yet I held my head in pride. A shiver went through my body. The heating in the baptism tank was broken. My daddy stood on one side of me, my youth pastor on the other.
"Do you love the Lord with all your heart mind and strength?" my youth pastor asked me, his towering body resonated his smile. I looked out into the congregation. I saw my sister with a cast wrapped around her broken wrist and Teryn who had suffered from large gashes on her arm and shoulder.
"Yes." I knew that if I had either of their injuries, I wouldn't have been standing in that tank.
"And do you intend to serve the Lord for the rest of your life?" I knew I was probably one of the only people who came out unscathed.
"Yes." I also knew that people would try and tell me that all of this was one big coincidence.
"Then it is my honour to baptize you in the Father, His Son and the Holy Spirit." I clasped my hand around my nose and squeezed my eyes shut. I felt two strong hands pushing down on each shoulder as I was immersed in the ice cold water and pulled back up. I smiled as I immediately threw my arms around my daddy, hearing everyone in the church let out a huge cheer. Some people say that it's just a coincidence that I didn't gain one gash scrape, or broken bone and I was getting baptized that very weekend. I say it’s a miracle.