And finally…on this blog devoted to talking about dying…here’s a story of something that didn’t die. This big, beautiful girl came very close but was ultimately saved from drowning by a handful of people (who took a huge risk in doing so I might add.)
On Valentine’s Day earlier this year in the Sea of Cortes down in Mexico, Michael Fishbach was in a small boat with his family and a couple of friends when they came upon a young, humpback whale severely entangled in fisherman’s netting. At first she appeared to be dead. But then they saw her exhale and realized she was exhausted and frightened but still alive. Her tail was weighted down about fifteen feet by all the fishing gear, both pectoral fins were pinned to her sides, and the net went up over her back forward of the dorsal fin. I can only imagine the thrashing and rolling she must have initially executed in her attempts to get clear of the net that led to so severe an entanglement, or the terror she must have experienced as it tightened around her.
At this point they had to decide whether they were going to watch helplessly as she slowly drowned or try and help her. Amazingly, as you’ll see in the video, Michael slipped on his snorkel, grabbed the one small knife they had in the boat, and swam slowly over to where she was floating to assess the situation.
At this point in the video I heard a weighty, entangling, and suffocating voice in my own head begin it’s droning about how stupid and dangerous it was for him to even try, but then the girl with wild hair inside me who adores the sea slipped past and ran to the edge of the boat, pumping her hand in the air and cheering Michael on.
Because sometimes safety just isn’t the most important thing.
What follows over the next few hours is a series of courageous attempts and lucky accidents that lead to the saving of a gigantic, and unspeakably precious, young life. There were so many things that could have gone wrong, things that would have made the situation far more tragic than it already was. But surprisingly, none of those things happened which confirms yet again what my grey and grizzled father–career warrior, survivor of three major wars, and witness to countless weird and miraculous events on the battlefield–has always told me:
Dia, if it’s your time to die then it’s your time to die, and nothing can save you. But if it’s not your time to die then it’s just not, and nothing…nothing…can kill you.
Clearly, it wasn’t anybody’s time to die in the Sea of Cortez last Valentine’s Day.
Here’s the video, Saving Valentina, if you get the chance.
copyright Dia Osborn 2011