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Shannon Rouchelle

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The Fight for Survival
By Shannon Rouchelle
Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Rated "G" by the Author.

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A true story about survival and faith.


                                      The Fight for Survival

It was a warm and tranquil evening the night my parents and I ventured across Nemeiben Lake, in Northern Saskatchewan. This vast lake, that expanded 26 miles across, had a reputation as being the best fishing and tourist resort in the province.

The sun was setting behind the dark rolling clouds massing on the horizon. We had just unloaded our belongings needed for a three-day stay at a secluded cabin across the lake. With the boat undocked and the gear and luggage stored beneath the security of the seats, we set off into the setting sun at 8:30.

I had never been on a fishing boat before and was captivated by the speed and grace in which it jutted through the waves. The lake was deserted as the sky began to darken, looking more threatening by the minute.

And then suddenly the laughter and chatter stopped. The boat hit something with such force we all fell over in our seats. The loud clunk vibrated the boat temporarily, before water started to trickle slowly over the stern. My father went to the back and after many attempts to start the engine, had a look of utter panic on his face. The water was now rushing in at a much faster rate, tipping the boat at an awkward angle.

The overloaded boat was now ankle deep in water. We tried frantically to scoop water from its interior. But it was no use. The water was gushing in quickly. The luggage and gear were bobbing on the water's surface. In a matter of minutes, everything in this luxurious boat would be on the bottom of the lake.

We braced ourselves. The worst was yet to come. With our life jackets secured and fastened, we waited as the boat sank deeper into the water. We were soon immersed in the chilly depths. The biting cold was more terrifying than anyone could have imagined. Since the ice had cleared only weeks before, the frigid water numbed our bodies within minutes. The boat floated on the water's surface briefly before disappearing into obscurity.

My parents, who were donned in floater jackets, clung desperately to each other, trying to keep their heads above water. I, on the other hand, wasn't so fortunate. A strong gust of wind blew briskly across the lake, bringing with it torrential rain and threatening thunderstorms. The strong waves carried me off into the night. The waves continued to pound violently, forcing me underwater and gasping for air.

I knew that death was near. Then suddenly, something quite extraordinary happened. A shadow appeared up ahead. I blinked in amazement. A beautiful loon landed only feet from my grasp. It stayed calmly by my side as the storm continued to engulf me in all its fury. All of a sudden I didn't feel so alone anymore. Deep in my heart, I knew everything would be okay.

The following morning a fisherman found us. By that time, our body temperatures were twenty-four degrees, putting us on the margin of death. I had lost 26 pounds overnight from my body attempting to stay warm. Later, investigation showed we had been in the water for thirteen hours. 

As I lay in the hospital bed recovering, I thanked God for all his mercy and for the guardian angel that watched over me.


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