Just Hold On

In 1998 my husband and I decided to take our two oldest sons and their cousins on a rafting trip down the Colorado River. As we “knew a guy,” we borrowed life vests, rafts, and chose to not hire a guide—after all, who needs a guide? The river only flows one direction. With confidence born of the ignorant and thrifty, we were on our way.

It didn’t take us long to realize the raft our sons were in, was holding air, and our raft was holding water. We bailed and planned to pull to shore as soon as we got through the whitewater, which was directly ahead. A moment later, I was tossed face first into the bottom of the raft. I knew I was drowning. No sooner had that thought entered my mind than I was again tossed with great force in another direction. I tried coming up for air but to my dismay, I realized the raft was now on top of my head and I had been thrown under the raft. I tried to bob, push the raft, move a different way, but each time just hit my head on the raft. I could not breathe. I was beginning to panic.


After what seemed like an eternity, the raft moved, I was able to breathe, was rescued by a boat filled with European tourists, and made my way to the sandy shore. Everyone was there but my husband. He had been missing as long as I had but was nowhere in sight. Prayers were uttered and we all watched upstream. In just over a minute Randy came floating towards us, very much alive. He had been sucked into a whirlpool, had felt close to blacking out but had instead popped back up to the surface.

Later as we processed the day’s events we discovered our sons had made it through the white water without incident. What had been a terrifying experience for us they described as, “exciting.” The difference? They had held on. Although I am embarrassed to admit, much like our not seeing the need to rent rafts, life vests, or hire a guide, we felt trying to paddle around the white water seemed prudent. We were wrong. Sometimes you just need to hold on tight and stay the course.

Occasionally, when we are in the middle of rough water, holding on is the key to mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional, survival. We may feel tossed about by the struggles of our children, things may become really messy, and occasionally it may feel as if we are drowning. But hold on. Don’t let go. Don’t give up. Stay the course. Hold on.

The pictures are from the actual event described above. Professional photographers in the Moab area caught it all on film.