Sunday, August 31, 2014

Light as Seen Through a Bilge Pump

Screams ripped through my abdomen. Water rushed through the hole I just came through. Where was I? I could hear the rain echoing off the side of the boat. It was so dark. Smelly. So much oil. I could feel it seeping into my clothes. Wait, my shirt was gone. It must have hung on a nail when the boat flipped and I tried to get to the surface. I whipped my body round and round. Looking for light. Looking for a hole. Looking for the hatch. I took the side of my hand and swung my best swing. The kind that sucked in your chest and made your breath go whoosh though your lungs. I continued to bang on all four walls. Kicking my feet, I noticed a throb starting in my left shin. A deep ache that made my toes tingle. 

"Dadddddyyyyy, SAAAAVVVEE MEEE!" I still hear my own screams in my sleep. When I'm in a quiet room. When I'm alone for more than four or five minutes. Showers are hard; I hear the water falling against the walls and the curtains and am reminded of the rain I could hear falling from inside the hull. I just recently was able to shower with the curtain closed. Towels used to cover the floor as I relished being able to see light and an escape route while water touched my body. Touched my memories. My screams will be something I live with for years to come. I will never forget them. I don't want to. 

I remember the pain I felt in my throat as I realized fumes burned my lungs. I didn't care. I continued to scream. Over and over again. My cries overpowered the sound of water rushing into the boat and the rain. I continued to bang. I thought of the drumline of the band as they used to walk down the hall signaling a pep rally with the heavy banging of their drums. It was a deep bong, bong, bong that continued to reverberate through me.

I touched every inch of the walls around me. With my back to the hole I came through ( being the floor of the cabin), I faced unknowingly the starboard side of the bottom of daddy's boat. My eyes began to adjust. My left contact was gone and I could feel it swelling. Small cut directly on the crease. I didn't think twice about it. I started to do an assessment of my injuries. Eye swollen, lip busted and swollen, leg sore, and hands bruising from banging. I suddenly realized that there was glitter. Sprinkling around me. Reflecting over the pieces of metal the bobbed in the small space. 

Light! There was light! I looked up and saw a 4-5 inch long, 1.5 inches wide plastic tube. Opaque in color, the tube had a small glow of light. It was made of heavy plastic. The end was clamped with a cloth-like piece. I wrapped my hands around and pulled. Twisted. Pushed. Hit. Bent. Yanked. Wrenched. Tore. Heaved. Jerked. I put every inch of my muscles into moving that tubing to get to the light. And it didn't even budge. I was frantic. My strength wasn't enough. I was frustrated.

I yelled at God to save me. To please save me. To help me think. Help me get out of here. In between cries to God, I yelled for my daddy. I kept pushing my self down into the water and debris to find a hatch. To find an opening to the surface. Items began to float up and fill my space. I got distracted by the little reflection of the pipe light glittering off of metal. I reached out numerous times thinking that it was an opening to the surface, but my hand always connected with metal. I felt like Merida from the Disney cartoon movie, Brave, following the will-o-wisps. Except mine weren't leading me to safety, but to more darkness. Despair. 

To my left was wall one. Directly in front was wall two. To my right, wall three, and behind me, the entrance to the cabin floor was wall four. Wall number one had particle board covering it. I wrenched the boards away looking for a hole. Tore fingernails and skin. I would have broken bones to find a hole behind those boards. 

I stopped and told myself to think. Sabrina you know this boat like the back of your hand. Your daddy's taught you a lot about this boat. Think about where you could be. The front boat has a hatch to the surface. There is a connecting opening between the cabin entrance to the engine room and the opening in the front of the if boat. 

I suddenly registered that Cody was screaming my name. CODDDDYYYYY. My cries changed instantly. I began beating on the boat again. Screeching his name. He was closer. He was right there. I could hear him walking on the boat; his footsteps echoing lightly. Watching the light, waiting for him to just pull whatever the tube was out and devise a plan on how to get to me free. Abruptly all of the light vanished. My heart stopped. My stomach twisted. My chest seized. Shrieking I told him not to block the light, I'm right here, don't take away the light. Instantly the light was back and Cody was speaking to me. "Sabrina the boat is filling up with water, you have to get out. You have to swim to the hatch in the front of the boat. You have to get there. The boat is filling up with water." I frantically cried to him that I didn't know which way the front of the boat was. 

Back to the walls, wall number 3 was solid until about the middle of my thigh and towards my hips. Then there was an opening that I could put the end of my legs in. I kept kicking my legs inside feeling to see if I could find a hatch. To find the opening. Cody kept telling me to swim to his voice. I yelled that I was in a compartment, there wasn't any way out but the way I came in. ( Plus, if you, the reader, don't already know this, I'm partially deaf in my right ear. Locating noises is not one of my strong points. At all.) I yelled this to cody over and over again. So he told me to follow the sound of him hitting the boat. "BANG BANG BANG" the noise reverberated through my compartment. The boat is thirty-six tons of metal, all Cody's banging did was echo through my head and body. 

He was so calm, and I was so frantic. I kept asking him where Dad was. Where he came out at. Cody kept saying "I don't know Sabrina, I don't see him yet. You have to get out. You have to swim to the hatch. The boat is filling up with water." The peace in his voice was so calming. He was so calm. How was he so calm. How could he be? I pushed myself down to the opening in wall number three and went as far as my feet could go and felt nothing. I began to push myself up when I felt the rope maliciously wrap around my throat. I couldn't get it loose. I wanted to scream but was still holding my breath. I thought "Okay God, I think I'm coming to see you. I gave this life a good try but at least I know where I'm going." I continued to struggle and felt the last bits of my lungs giving way. Arms flopping around for something to pull me up-feet kicking to find something to push off of. Nothing was working. Then suddenly there was air. I was spitting diesel, oil, and muck from my mouth and my lungs, but I was breathing air. I did not know how. I didn't know how I got back up. 

The rain had quieted down. I called to Cody, " Codyman, I love you so much. I don't think I'm getting out of here okay? But I love you so so much." "Sabrina I love you too, but you are getting out of this boat. Now hush and swim to the hatch. Now." He was still so calm. I pulled my hands up to grab the plastic tube again. Except my wrists were wrapped in sewing twine for the net. Burning and cutting into my flesh, I looked at the two pieces of green twine wrapping my wrists. 

Which one was loudest? What if I cut my wrist and bled out instead of screamed for air as Cody listened? What would be the easiest death for him to hear/witness? It took about 3 seconds for me to say, "but what if Daddy and Cody get to me and I'm already dead. There's still a chance. I am not doing this." 

I tore the twine off of my wrists and began talking to God. I don't know if many of you know but since last August I have struggled with depression. A deeply rooted, twisted depression that tries to steal the joy from the life I love. The pain of losing two friends to suicide, one in March and one in August, was so profound  that I struggled with my anger at God. Then another friend passed away in October. I finally broke down in November of 2013 and admitted to my parents that I was struggling. I had found a good outlet to help me, volunteering as a mentor to high school students. It was during a volunteering event that I knew, I needed help. I loved God and I wanted to live for Him, but I was angry. I was mad. I was frustrated. All feelings that I had never possessed towards God before.  

In the bottom of that boat, I broke the last piece of my anger away and told Him how sorry I was. How much I loved Him. That my life is Yours. Do what you want. At peace with my decision, I tried to swim back into the cabin to see if I could find an opening. It was then that I felt something solid, but soft push against my left arm and left leg. I reached for it, thinking it was a person, maybe they were trying to pull me out. But as I reached, the thing floated out of my reach and I pulled myself back into my compartment. I blocked the idea that it was daddy out of my mind and focused on Cody's voice and getting out. I scoured the walls, looking for an opening. Crying out to God for the hatch. I broke away all the particle board and placed my hand on every inch of the walls. No openings except the way I came in. 

Cody's voice was always there, talking to me, comforting me, but still commanding me to go towards the hatch and the front of the boat. All at once, I couldn't make out Cody's words anymore and it sounded like he was going away from me. Thinking the wind, water, current (and/or sharks, because lets be real, we all watch shark week, and the thought crossed my mind) was sweeping him away, I went bezerk for him to hear me, to swim towards my voice. His stern voice interrupted my cries, "Sabrina there's a boat, I'm yelling for them, be quiet." When a 13 year old little brother, tells you to be quiet when you are trapped inside the hull of your families shrimp boat  so that he can flag down a boat, then you be quiet and wait for your next instructions. 

Within seconds, I met Steve. Another Saving Grace. Another light as seen through a bilge pump. 

This has been difficult to write. And I hope that my fears show you, that I am not just naturally strong or putting on a front. My strength comes from The Lord. I relied on Him through the darkness in the hull and in the twelve days since then. By no means, could I do this alone. I am ashamed that suicide even crossed my mind. In the moment, it was justified. I was going to save Cody the anguish of hearing my death. But I realized now that this is how suicide works. It takes a small thought and manipulates it into an idea and then transforms it into a plan of action and then eases your conscience so that there is justification. But that justification is only a manifestation of your own weakness. We all struggle. I think we are meant to. If we did not have struggles, then when would we have a chance to lean on God's Grace? On Jesus's love? 

This blog sums up the first 45 minutes of being trapped. The next three hours were rough, but I had an amazing lifeline who talked me through the whole time. I will write about that next. Thank you for reading, and again, if you have any questions please feel free to ask. 

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. Psalm 59:16


  1. What a testimony even if this is only a part of the story. Thank you for being so real, so honest. I came by your house and I came to the funeral, but I haven't been able to give you a hug yet. Consider this your hug for now sweet girl ((((((((Sabrina)))))))

  2. Thanks for sharing your story! You are an amazing young woman!