Jul 2, 2011

My Greatest Fear

That's What Friends Are For, sang/performed by Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Sir Elton John

While chatting with H on happy things, I ask her an interesting topic:

"H, what is your greatest FEAR?"

She said :

"flying cockroaches..!"

And I said to her :

"I fear the sea...the ocean."

H said "I loved the sea..but why you fear it?"

When I was very young, maybe 5 to 6 years. My uncle Bill used to take us out to Changi beach for picnic and swimming. I couldn't swim at all. So he got me a float so that I could go out to sea with my cousin John. But John could swim. And he swam really well. The sea that day was choppy, high winds and all. I was just next to John, then he said "let's swim over there to my dad.." then he turn around, kick his legs and accidentally kick off the float I was clinging on for dear life.

The float drifted away and I was struggling to keep afloat. Then I sunk..I opened my eyes and saw greenish water all around me. I saw bubbles above my eyes as I was trying to scream. And my screams were not heard underwater..I struggled and raised my hands and tried to make sure it was above water so someone would see me.

It must have been minutes but it seem like hours and no one came. My tears were mixed with the sea water around me, and I cried, but no one can hear me. I felt pain in my chest, and the bubbles started to diminish right before my eyes. I knew I was drowning...so in one last breath, I closed my eyes and told God I am coming. Please wait for me.

Then I felt someone grabbing my arms, and carrying me. I couldn't my eyes because the salt sea water have blurr my vision. For a moment I thought I have passed on and was in God's arms. Then I heard my uncle calling me, pressing my chest to revive me and to throw up the water.

When I finally opened my eyes, I could then see, it was my uncle who came to save me. And I knew God's plan for me was to stay here. My time isn't up yet. Since then, I learnt to swim. When I was in Secondary school, I entered the swimming team and won many prizes in swimming carnivals.

But the fear of drowning never leaves me. I took up Survival courses in swimming. I pass the Bronze level and went for the Silver. But when I was told that we needed to spend half a day out at sea to test our endurance in choppy waters, I chickened out. Then I realised that despite knowing how to float now and even how to swim, I could not bring myself to go out to sea again. I could never swim in the open ocean. The fear never leaves me. Even though our swimming coach was around and he had other assistants who are life guards to be on standby. I just couldn't bring myself to go out to sea again.

Some years later, when I working for Jardine Fleming, my boss send me on my first maiden trip to Jakarta. Just a 3 day work week to hold meetings and discussions with the Publications team at our Jakarta office. I was bound to take SilkAir flight out of Singapore to Jakarta. The plane was due to arrive JKT at 8am, then I had planned to be jostled downtown from airport to the hotel and check in and leave for the office for meeting by noon.

When I boarded the plane, everything seemed fine. All systems go, so to speak. Then the plane couldn't lift off..some technical problems. All of us could hear the engine moving but also it make funny noises too. We were stuck in the plane, on ground for over an hour. Then the Captain allowed us to make calls to our families, friends or biz here in Singapore to say that we will be late to arrive in Jakarta. And ask them*our Singaporean family to relay the message to our counterparts in Indonesia.

The captain assured us that we will not be leaving the plane to board another saving us the hassles of moving and transferring. But the ground crew need to check a couple of 'things' before lift off.

Finally at almost 11am, the plane took off and we landed in Jakarta by noon. By that time all my plans delayed. The going home part was smooth however.

When I went back to the office, my boss Su Chzeng said to me :

"Gina, you are on SIA planes, aren't they the safest, fastest around?"

2 months later...this same SilkAir plane plunged into the Palembang River, Indonesia, killing everyone on board. Su Chzeng was in shock..she told me "I take my words..!"

A brush with death..but God kept me safe..

Some years later, our family went for a short 4 day trip to Phuket. Benny couldn't join us as he couldn't take leave. So I went with my girls, my parents, my sis, her hubby and my niece. We did all the sea sports. I had to face up to my own fears. In one occasion, we went scuba diving. The guide was good and gather us around. We swam in small groups. Melody was barely 4 back then. A dip in the sea is just too much for her. The wind was extremely strong that day. The sea current wasn't too forgiving. She wanted out..and sat on the boat and watch us.

The guide told us to gather together as the currents are getting too strong. I heard him, and as I was about to swim my way to him, the current proved too strong for me..I drifted away...with the scuba gear on my back, and my fear got the best of me..I struggled vigorously and shouted for help. But the wind carried my voices out to sea..and I was starting to drift further away from the group. Although I was still afloat, I could only think I was dying again.

Thank God, my brother in law, Francis was nearby. And he waved to the boat driver. And he drove the boat around to pick me up.

Another brush with death and its with the sea again. That incident left me somewhat shaken. I shuddered to think what the future is for me with the sea. But still I was thankful that God saved me again.

A month later, Tsunami hits Phuket, wiping out the village and the tourist spots. And Tsunami hits that very same spot I was in back then.

When I told H, I realised for so many times I have that close brush with death. Almost dying but life given back to me. My greatest fear to date is still swimming in the open ocean. But never about anything else. I live my life loving everyone, everything. All the time.


Because I REALLY do not know what the future holds for me. What will happened next. How many times have you had that close brush with death. ?

Like in the movies "Final Destination"...I cheated death so many times over. How much longer can I do this.?

So live your life to the fullest. Like there is no tomorrow. Mend old hurts today, not tomorrow. Rekindled old friendships now. Say you love your mom or dad or mother in law or child today, every day. Show you care. Because your next breath of life may be your last.

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