Forty years ago today one of the pivotal events in my life happened, one that still affects me to this day. What follows is a slightly edited repost of what I wrote last year.
On July 28th, 1966, our family went on a picnic outing with friends to celebrate the birthday of a young South American teacher who was living with us at the time. We drove a few kilometers away from our town to a small undeveloped beach on the Tocantins river. After lunch my dad took a nap in a hammock, and my mom went down the beach to a shack to change into swim wear, while the several of us kids and young teens splashed about in the warm and shallow water.
Then, it happened.
While the events that followed are somewhat muddled in my mind, I recall a great deal of commotion. Someone noticed that my nearly-7-year-old sister Elizabeth had disappeared under the water, and had not reappeared. Most of the river was extremely shallow during that time of the year, but unknown to us, there was an underwater drop-off just behind where Elizabeth had been standing. Apparently, as she stepped out of the shallows into the drop-off, the slow but powerful current pulled her under, and she never came back up.
And I miss her still.
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