The water looms deep and she falters. "I can't."
The words slip out, barely audible, and she turns back towards the way from which she came. She thinks of giving up.
Her head snaps up as her name is called from the water. "I wouldn't ask you to do it if I didn't think you could."
Her instructor comes a little closer and speaks again into the silence as the trepidation mounts.
"I'll be right here if you need me."
The words elicit a new resolve, however meek. She returns to the edge of the board and hesitates again. She looks hard into the blue, her eyes full of determination mingled with fear.
Then, quite suddenly, her legs pulse and her arms stretched our far into the unknown...she jumps.
Her eyes squeezed tight, she hits the water with a vivid splash. Her head emerges from the water and she flails.
"Swim to the side!" comes the cry from the mentor she's known so well. The flailing intensifies and the voice touches her ever so lightly on the arm.
Her eyes open wide, her head barely visible above the water, she refuses to move toward relief.
"I can't!" Lack of faith...lack of resolve...breaks forth from her tiny body and time stands still.
The instructor leans in close and speaks. "Yes you can. Now GO."
Harsh and gentle. Strong and sure. The truth hangs long in the stifling air.
She lets go and the child...the baby turned little girl...she swims. Realizing there is no other way out, she calls on what she's been taught and moves fast to the rhythm of her heart, beating fast and furious in this transitional moment.
Her kicks are strong. Her arms sure. And she is safe.
I replayed the scene all day. Proud mother reliving the accomplishment? Yes. But more than that, I keep hearing the words of her instructor. Harsh-seeming words in the moment, buried deep in the well of encouragement, they hold lifelong implications.
I'm a hand holder by nature. I nourish and I respond. I rock babies and carry them incessantly on my hip. My role, however, is
Perhaps it will take me here. To the edge of an endeavor. To a moment where a pair of big brown eyes stare searchingly into my own as she flails in a sea of unknown. Longing to swim, but afraid to drown, she'll falter. No longer a baby...a girl turned woman...she'll stare hard, breath deep and whisper, "I can't."
I only hope as these moments arise, as the vast blue looms and the heart aches, I'll have the courage to let go and whisper it with forceful hope and love.
"Yes you can. Now GO."