In a childhood journal entry, Gifty describes a contest with her friend Ashley to see who could hold their breath longer in the pool. She was so determined to win that she passed out and had to be pulled from the water by Ashley’s mother, who yelled, “You could have killed yourself!” Gifty asks God if he would have let her die.
Gifty herself has always been risk-averse, feeling that if she controls herself carefully, she will be able to avoid the pitfalls she watched her family members succumb to. The memory in this journal entry marks a rare exception, albeit one that is connected to other themes in Gifty’s life. Her mother’s suicide attempt involves submerging herself in water, and both this actual attempt to die and Gifty’s accidental courting of death recall Gifty’s sly attempts to baptize herself in the tub. Both represent a desire to die to the old life and be born anew. Although this journal entry is undated, its address to God suggests it’s before Nana’s death, Gifty’s loss of faith, and her mother’s suicide attempt. Nevertheless, it shows how her belief in God made her feel less vulnerable than she actually was, suggesting that both her mother and brother might not have properly understood their own vulnerabilities, either.