By Elfreda Pretorius
"You called me back when I had already crossed the river, Mum." I shall never forget those words of my son. He is much older now, but on this particular day we were discussing an incident that had happened many years ago that changed his life and rocked my world - the day a tree crushed his seven year old body.
For many years we did not refer to the accident, even though it changed his life and rocked my world. But on the day that it happened, the doctors were unanimous in their prognosis - it would only be a matter of time before his little body lost the battle against the massive trauma inflicted upon him.
Against all odds, he made it - but that is a whole other story. His experience of "crossing the river" is the topic of our discussion. I was with him in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, and the first time he whispered that "the white light was present" my heart contracted in anguish and panic - the message was unmistakable; he was simply too young to know about this, or make it up himself.
The crisis passed and for another twenty minutes or so the emergency team strained to help him breathe and stabilize his heartbeat - only their frantic faces were evidence of a battle being lost.
Then he spoke again and repeated his solemn observation of the white light in the ambulance, and this time, he added: "Come with me, Mummy. I don't want to go alone."
I will spare you my reactions. Truthfully, I don't remember them very clearly at all, except the wild thunder of my heart in my chest and the incomprehensible babble I imagined would ward Death away from my fragile child. An ambulance worker said afterwards that I kept imploring my boy to look into my eyes to stop him from closing his - perhaps forever. He said that I put my hands on either side of my child's face and pleaded with him to hold on.
But the Grim Reaper had cast his shadow over us; he was waiting, just like us. I knew it, and so did my boy. The memories are vague but I was aware of an incredible fear that ran like lightening rods through my body, holding it rigidly in place, challenging the palpable force of Death to find another victim, imploring It to pass us by this time and find other hearts to break - just this once.
Fifteen years after the accident when we had this conversation, I looked into his clear light brown eyes. Since that day he has had a serenity that I admire; a peacefulness that must be the envy of saints, and the ability to flow with life, like none other that I have seen. His look was unwavering. "Yes, Mum. You called me back.
I had already crossed the river, and I wasn't scared anymore. But you were. I saw the fear in your eyes and that is when I knew that our journey was not yet complete. It wasn't time yet." He smiled that half smile that is so characteristic of him. "There is nothing to be afraid of."
Our journey together had been a tough one from the very start when both of us almost didn't make it as he emerged into this world. I will probably never know the full meaning of his near death experience when he was seven, but this I know: Our children are often our greatest teachers. He spoke of the river. And I have no fear of it anymore.
Elfreda Pretorius is an author, radio personality and Personal Coach spe
cializing in Self Empowerment. Her radio program is titled Game Changer on http://webtalkradio.net/To date she has written two books and is published in a number of magazines in the US and Canada, and is a Personal Coach to some industry leaders. Elfreda co-authored her third book, "The Meadow" with Mike O'Hare - an accomplishment they are both very proud of. It is an epic love story that stretches over millennia, reaching back to ancient Mexica and stretching into contemporary Pakistan. Mike and Elfreda have just begun searching for agent representation in order to publish this epic work.