I have almost died three times in my life. And always in exotic locales!

Let me tell you my brush-with-death stories. And then I expect to hear yours.

For a brief few years of my childhood, my father’s business made a small fortune. So until he spent it all and bankrupted his company, he took us on fantastic vacations. Two of them almost killed me.

1. Grindelwald, Switzerland. I was 10. I had been skiing since I was little, but, you know, I was only 10. When the family friends I was skiing with, parents and older kids, forgot me at the ski lodge when I went to the can, I tried to catch up with them. I took a wrong turn, ended up on a black diamond, lost control and ended up in the nets meant to prevent avalanches and perched over the side of the mountain somehow. I was in armpit-deep snow for an hour, screaming for help, until anyone saw me. As I sobbed my eyes out with terror, a Swiss ski-lift operator finally spotted me, climbed up and dug me out with about 10 minutes until sundown. My father FREAKED at the family friends who forgot about me, and didn’t let go of me for three days.

2. Oahu, Hawaii. I was 13. My brother and I went to a surfing beach on blow-up air mattresses. Both of us lying on our stomachs on our mattresses, we somehow ended up out where the mega-waves are, and actually rode a sweet one gleefully for what felt like forever until it threw us violently under the water and wouldn’t let me back up. I have a vague recollection of my brother trying to save me and literally climbing up his body to try to get to the surface. Then I passed out. When I woke up, a U.S. Marine was giving me mouth to mouth on the beach and my brother was beside himself, thinking I was dead. We didn’t tell my father for months. My brother, always tawny-skinned, was white as a ghost for a week.

Now fast forward a few decades.

3. My son and I took a canoe out on the St. Lawrence River in a beautiful and rugged region of Canada known as the Gaspe. At this point, the river is opening up into the Atlantic Ocean — you can’t see the other side. The canoe had no keel, and so it was really hard to handle, even though I was a fairly experienced paddler. Of course, five minutes out, a storm blew up out of nowhere. We were getting blown to Ireland at a high speed, and I have honestly never in my life been more terrified. We had life jackets but the water was frigid. But I had to stay calm so that I didn’t scare my son, who was only nine at the time. I stood up gingerly at one point and started waving my paddle frantically at a very far-off motorboat that was heading to shore because of the storm. I was certain he couldn’t see me and that we were going to die; there was really no doubt in my mind that death was near, and emotionally I was going through all the stuff you go through when you think you’re dying — things I regretted, people I loved, how they would suffer. But sure enough, the guy saw us, sped over and rescued us. I bawled and hugged him and didn’t stop clinging to my boy for three days, just as my father had clung to me almost 30 years earlier.

I figure because I’ve already had three, there can’t be any more and I am safe now. Right? By the way, this is one of the reasons I do not drive. I figure someone/something has wanted me dead at least three times in my life, so why would I tempt fate by getting into a tiny guided missile? One false move and I’m dead!

In any event, please tell BCP your own brush-with-death stories. It’s good therapy!

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