When I was twelve years old, I risked my own life to save someone else’s.
The year was 1982. He was my friend (actually my boyfriend, whatever that means in sixth grade) and in a moment of sheer fearlessness, I surprised myself- even to this day.
Three of us were jet skiing in the middle of Biscayne Bay in Miami. There were other kids, on a boat, beached on one of the little sandy islands, hanging out and waiting their turn to ride. (I know what you must be thinking, but these were different times…)
I was one of the three on the jet skis, with two other boys- one was my then ‘boyfriend’ Todd and the other was a boy two years older than me, named Richie.
It was out of a movie what happened next.
Todd fell off of his jet ski. Richie didn’t see him and ran over his head but felt the impact of the hit. I saw the whole thing. This movie plays in my head to this day, in slow motion and in graphic detail.
Todd, in dead’s man float, was unconscious and bleeding profusely in the middle of the bay.
Richie panicked and was screaming, completely immobile.
I immediately jumped off the jet ski to go help Todd. Always being a strong swimmer, I was able to turn him over, as he was profusely bleeding from a huge gash in his head.
As I was treading water and holding Todd, I screamed to our panic ridden friend Richie, “GO GET HELP!”
He sped away on the jet ski to the deserted island to my brother and the other kids (maybe the oldest was 15) where the boat was beached on the island.
I remember praying to God, “Please don’t let him die.”
I remember talking to my unconscious friend, “Please don’t be dead.”
All the while, I was able to see, about 40 yards away, the other kids NOT able to get the boat off the sand. The tide had gone out and it was hard to push the boat into the water.
It was surreal. And how I remained calm, at 12 years old, is a complete mystery to me.
I held him afloat, gushing blood, and didn’t panic. I seriously don’t know how I did it for about 15 minutes alone in the middle of Biscayne Bay.
Eventually, we were pulled into the boat and raced back to the marina.
Our friends ran down the pier, his parents were told, and we waited for the ambulance.
As his mother held him, he gained consciousness and saw me sitting right in front of him.
He asked, “Marci, am I bleeding?”
I said, “No, Todd. You are gushing.”
He passed out again.
I had saved him and slayed him in a matter of 60 minutes. Two opposite ends of the spectrum.
He went to the hospital and got over 100 stitches to his head. He was wrapped in a turban bandage and stayed in Florida for 2 weeks because he couldn’t get on a plane to fly back to NY.