"It's a Fundraiser" for Michael Kanouff
J Michael Kanouff
30 Waokele Pl.
Kula, Maui, HI 96790
Letters From The Edge: A
Chapter One: Born of the Water (short excerpt)
I closed my eyes and waited for the tumble of water
and sand to subside. The Frisbee had been thrown low, but I made a heroic leap
for it anyway, thinking the surf would cushion my fall to the sand; it did not.
My head burrowed hard into the sand while the rest of my body somersaulted. My
neck snapped. When I couldn’t move my arms to push up out of the water, I
realized instantly that my life was going to be totally different-if I survived.
Moments before, I’d been sitting on a sand dune, gazing out at the ocean and looking intently within, at the spectrum of my life. I had yet to encounter a beloved in my life. I was at a fork in the road with my career and could go in either direction, both inherently flawed, but also deeply fulfilling. Unfortunately, there was more of the former in both cases, creating an inner angst that was tearing me apart. I was despondent and feeling very alone. I thought a little Frisbee might help… Face down in the shallow surf, I struggled to conserve my last lungful of air; otherwise, I would burn oxygen and gasp a lungful of salty seawater. My only hope was that someone would see me floating on the water, motionless, and quickly investigate. To panic risked losing my narrow window of survivability, so I concentrated instead on the beautiful dance of sand and water currents beneath me. Simultaneously, I mentally cried out to my friends on the beach, “Come get me! I’m not fooling around, I’m really hurt!”
Burning lungs would soon force open my mouth. Eyes opened wide and stinging from the salt, I screamed inaudibly for help. I was seconds from losing control, seconds from taking the breath that would be my last, when all of a sudden the sand sprouted a forest of hairy legs.
Forty-five seconds had passed before several vacationing paramedics noticed me face down in the water and instantly reacted. My friends, who thought I’d been practicing some exotic water meditation, sprang into action only after the paramedics had already lifted my 6’6”, 190-pound body out of the sea. I gasped, “Thank you, oh thank you!” while they yelled, “Support his head!” to my friends. Two other angels present were a husband and wife medical team who taught at Yale. The vacationing paramedics and two Yale doctors carried me from the water, placed me flat on the sandy beach, and with donated belts immobilized my body on a surfboard. Maui must be a magical place, to have had these professionals serendipitously at hand to act as midwives.