At two-thirty o'clock this fine Sunday afternoon after church, I packed my husband and children up and made a beeline for the lake. Because nature is God's gift. Because I wanted to spend time with my family. Because let's face it--it was danged hot outside. Too hot.
Oh how I am looking forward to this weekend when we leave on vacation for central Utah in the mountains. I'm ready to trade chiggers for bloody noses (does anyone else get bloody noses from dry air?). Chevy is sponsoring our vacation with a 2010 Chevy Traverse.
But today's post is not about Chevy Traverses or even a wonderful after-bite creme that Teddy Started It sent me called Once Bitten for my chigger bites and rash. Today's post is about gratitude and love...after all today is Sunday.
Or rather, yesterday was Sunday since I am posting this on a Monday morning.
You see, the trip I made yesterday afternoon to the lake almost didn't happen. In fact, it wouldn't have happened if life had played out differently one year ago. I'm not even sure why I am sharing this now, except I feel compelled to do so. I've never spoken publicly about what happened before, and only a few friends know, but one year ago while we were on vacation my middle son nearly drowned.
We had already spent two long days driving, hiking, and camping through Texas and New Mexico. By the time we got to my friend's home in Gilbert, Arizona my husband and I were both tired. Because we were tired neither one of us were very alert when we went to my friend's community pool for a swim. A few short minutes after we had arrived for a fun afternoon of swimming and playing catch-up the worst moments of my life thus far would overtake me.
I thought my husband was watching the boys.
I should have been.
Rather, we should have had life-jackets on each of my sons to begin with.
Or we shouldn't have gone unless we were both alert enough to watch our children completely.
I should have. I would have. But that means nothing when someone you don't know begins yelling for a little child's parents.
There my son lay on the side of the pool--blue, not breathing, lifeless. I hadn't even seen him pulled out of the pool. Quickly, a call was placed to 911 and a stranger began performing CPR on my child. I stood there in a haze looking at my son who was not breathing and whose heart had stopped for who knows how long. I couldn't think and I couldn't talk. Everything felt so surreal. I just stood there watching everyone else.
By the grace of God my son's life was spared. He soon began opening his eyes and water began spewing from inside him. He whimpered and then he cried like a new born babe. Then the words that will haunt me for the rest of my life:
"I want out. I want out. I want out of the water."
But he was already out. How many times he pleaded with his mom and dad to take him out of the water while he felt himself drowning and we didn't hear him no one will ever know. Because we were tired. Because we were talking. Because we couldn't move twenty feet and get in the water with our own children.
I will never forget when the paramedics came running into the pool area, grabbed my son, asked me what felt like a hundred questions, and then rushed him onto a LifeFlight helicopter for a nearby hospital. At that moment I somehow knew he was going to be okay, but that didn't change how I felt about myself as others took care of my child.
I'm his mother--I'm supposed to be my child's protector.
The next day he was released from the hospital. My son has suffered no long-term effects of his near drowning. We are more cautious with all our children now, and especially when we are near water. None of them have taken swim classes so they all must wear life jackets in the water. We do not take our eyes off them even for a second.
One of the hardest things for us was going back to swim after this horrible incident. It's like when you ride a bike and crash or you run a marathon and sprain your ankle. You are wounded, yet fearful of doing the activity that caused you pain before. However, you know that you must overcome your fear to conquer your dreams.
My dream is to have my children's full trust and love always as I raise them.
I'm grateful for strangers that day who were looking out for my son.
I'm grateful for strangers that day who knew CPR.
I'm grateful for friends that helped us out and gave us rides and a place to sleep.
I'm grateful that God gave us that second chance.
This was almost my son's last photograph taken at Rockhound State Park in New Mexico: