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Monday, June 14, 2010

Gratitude and a Second Chance


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:



Mummy said...

I nearly drowned when I was little in a private swimming pool, it was my own stupid fault as I took my arm bands off as I wanted to swim without them and I waited until my parents were both with my little sister to do it as I knew they would stop me.

What I am trying to say is this wasn't your fault. Mistakes happen.

Hugs all the same though.

cfoxes33 said...

I was swimming in a nearby lake with my sister and two cousins. I was around 14 or 15 and the water gets pretty deep. I was doing handstands. I stood upright and looked over and saw my aunt pointing at me and running toward the lake. I looked over and saw my curly, red-headed cousin go under, flailing his arms. He was in trouble and in water over his head. I took three steps and a stroke and found him. I pulled him up and he grabbed my neck, choking me until he was relaxed and he was safe. It was a scary time for us all.

Travis Erwin said...

How scary. Glad all turned out well.

Arena @ {thenerdswife} said...

Thanks for sharing such a compelling story. It's definitely a reminder to never be too complacent.

So glad that everything worked out in the end.

Candance said...

That's terrifying, Gal. Glad he's okay-and you will be, too-eventually. Isn't mommy guilt the worst?

Screwed Up Texan said...

Mummy and CFoxes33, that is scary! I too almost drowned when I was younger. The one thing that sticks out in my mind is that none of the adults believed me.

Travis, Me too.

Arena, Certainly.

Candance, Yes Mommy Guilt IS the worst.

Carabella said...

Thanks for posting this!
As a new mom, I feel that same urgency to be there & be a fabulous mommy to my son. Whereas my son is 9 months young, we will certainly be right there with him when we are in the water. However, as kids become more independent & become more trustworthy it's easy to fall victim to such mishaps. The fact that you care enough to have all of those feelings you had... that just shows you much of a good mom you really are! :)

Again, thanks for posting this story! It will help remind me in a few years to keep my eyes & ears open at all times. :)

X's & O's

Screwed Up Texan said...

Carabella, Thank you...and you're welcome. I certainly hope it helps prevent a tragedy for someone.

DangGina said...

Yikes. I mean YIKES. I'm so glad everything turned out okay! Yikes!

Erica M. said...

A case of Dr Pepper at your door the day you stop blaming yourself for this. I'm glad your boy is okay. Quick suggestion? Practice calling that cute "almost-last" picture simply a picture. You'll PTSD yourself to death if you don't take baby steps away from the triggers.

Screwed Up Texan said...

Erica, Probably why I am nervous about going on vacation next week. Vacations are supposed to be fun, not almost end in tragedy.

Foursons said...

Oh my gosh, I am so scared for you even though it happened a year ago. Drowning is one of my biggest fears for my kids. You know where I live and you know how much water recreation is a part of this town. Last summer Jakob was in an advanced swim class that gets them ready for competition. Well the teacher decided to take them to the river to swim. My boy who can swim in a pool- all the strokes, and swim WELL could NOT swim in the river. He was drowning only not drowning because the swim teachers were there. But I had no idea. I assumed because he was such a strong swimmer that I did not have to worry as much about him. I was so wrong.

I am so thankful your son is OK and you have another summer to go swimming again. Thank you for sharing and for pouring your heart out. I can't imagine the fear you and your husband had.

Erica M. said...

I find that two rolls of duct tape is just enough to strap one kid to each hip and the baby onto my back. We move around like that until the hotel staff approaches gently and with scissors. Travel tips from another paranoid mom. You're welcome.

IzzyLizzy said...

Oh this just makes my heart hurt -- every mother's worst nightmare but thank GOD that this story had a happy ending. Kate hasn't spent much time at the pool yet, but thank you for sharing so that I can take it as a lesson for our fun times around water!

Mindee@ourfrontdoor said...

Well that just scared the crap out of me. It never fails to shock me how life changes in a split second. I'm glad your story ended well.

Screwed Up Texan said...

Foursons, The more I hear about said instructor the more I wonder well...I am sure you do too. Rivers and currents are a whole other thing.

Erica, You gave me a great idea for this coming Saturday. Thanks.

Mindee, Me too.

Taylor-Made Wife said...

Talk about a parent's worst nightmare. So glad everything turned out okay.

Taylor-Made Wife said...

Oh, and more importantly-I;m so glad you overcame the incident and got back out there!

NitWit1 said...

Yes you have every reason to be thankful and grateful. And I bet it is on your mind because you are about to embark on another family adventure.

I know you will pace yourself well so you will be more alert.

Many mistakes and accidents I made have been when I was tired. We nearly had a major returning home for NC. We were just tired even in the a.m. after an emotionally draining trip.

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