Just Breathe

Gazing out the window, having the sun warm his cheeks and wash away the chill of remembering the loss of a friend and the near loss of his own life; Jesse sips a freshly brewed cup of coffee and begins to recount the events of that fateful day.

Jesse catches his breath.

Jesse recalls the events that brought him to be standing on the boat as it skipped across the deep blue water, the wind buffeting his face and ripping through his hair. Looking into the dark nothingness below him, he saw a vague reflection of someone on the other side. He doesn’t see himself but rather the shape of someone like him. Shouts from the rest of the passengers brought Jesse back into the world around him; he realized he has been holding his breath.

Jesse catches his breath

Jesse Maerz and his two friends were with their late friend’s father on his boat paying their respects to the passing of someone close to them. The four of them said little as the rocking and jarring of the boat on the water sent shockwaves through their bodies reinforcing the impact of the loss of Anthony. “It just seemed like the ocean was in just as much emotional turmoil as we were”, said Jesse as he sits at breakfast discussing his enormous scars sprawling up his arm as if someone had dragged burning hot claws across his bicep and forearm.

Jesse catches his breath

On the boat they had all sat in different sections, not wanting to be apart yet yearning for personal space in which to reflect on the weight of the events leading up to Anthony’s passing. Jesse placed himself at the bow of the boat, opting for a view of the expanding horizon. “I hated looking back, being at the front of the boat gave me a chance to look to the future and hope Anthony, his father, his family, and everyone else his passing affected would be in a better place soon. To look back sent daggers of emotion into my entire body, immobilizing me with sadness and loss”. From the front of the boat Jesse can see the rising and falling of the waves, the immense size of their peaks and the harrowing depths of their valleys.

Jesse catches his breath.

As a massive wave slammed into the bow of the boat the passengers lurched forward, slamming into metal and wood alike. One passenger does not hit any solid object; instead Jesse Maerz is thrown forward into the raging ocean. “I didn’t even react; one second I am looking at the dark horizon the next I am staring into darkness with a terrible cold grip squeezing the air out of my body”. As the passengers rights themselves they realize Jesse is missing and spring into action to locate his body.

In the water Jesse was whipped around like a rag doll, at the mercy of the relentless and endless power of the ocean. Having been at the bow of the boat Jesse’s body is quickly over taken by the sea craft and mercilessly ravaged by the bow, underside of the hull, and propeller. Emerging from the gauntlet of bone crushing and sinew tearing hazards underneath the vessel he finds himself metres below the surface, “my entire left arm was numb and I had a pain that felt like someone had stabbed me in my abdomen. All I wanted to do was get to the surface but each time I felt like one more kick of my legs would get me there I gasped for air and only got water”.

When all hope for Jesse seemed lost Anthony’s father pulled his limp lifeless body into the world of the living. “I remember him reassuring me it was going to be OK and that he loved me; that he wasn’t going to let anything bad happen to me. But what really sticks in my mind is that throughout the entire ordeal he kept calling me Anthony”.

Jesse catches his breath.

In the hospital Jesse discovers his radial nerve has been completely shredded; and told he will never be able to use his arm again. “They wanted to amputate my arm from the elbow down but there was no way I was going to let them take it. Even if it didn’t work, I was not about to lose my arm as well”. It would take six months before Jesse would realize that decision would be one of the greatest in his young life. “I was watching TV one day and I had this creeping feeling crawling up my arm. As I looked down I could see my index and middle finger moving back and forth”.

Jesse catches his breath.

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