Paraparaumu beach, with a group of small children from school. We run along the wet sand and then into the sea laughing and splashing and screaming with excitement as we jump in and out of the waves that almost knock us down. Eventually we are told to leave, to come out of the water - but I want to stay just a few minutes longer - it is so wonderful! I have never been to a beach before. A moment longer. I look back to shore and see the others have almost left the beach and I will have to run to catch up.
Suddenly I can't touch the bottom and I am terrified! There is a strong undertow my legs and feet are lifting beneath me. I'm struggling to stay upright, my head is under and I am swallowing water. A big wave lifts me up high, and unconsciously I know that I must stay on top of this wave and not struggle. It has enormous momentum. For a moment I feel my body floating gently within the wave, then in slow motion I am flung towards the beach. Nobody notices as I stagger to my feet and run after the others. But my heart is pounding and I know I have nearly drowned. I feet guilty for staying in the water. It was soon after this that I was sent back to the orphanage, and I felt doubly guilty.