Monday, May 08, 2006
Monday Memories: The Day My Heart Stood Still
I saw Purple Kangaroo's lovely post about Baby E's birth, and the thoughts of Baby E being brought into this world reminded me of the joy our children bring. That, in turn, reminded me of the time that I almost lost Offspring. I still have nightmares about that day.
Offspring was about four years old, and we had gone out to the beach, where my parents live, to visit for the day, and go for a boat ride, and some time on the beach. We had gone out in my stepdad's large cabin cruiser, and were all wearing the requisite life preservers. (Stepdad is a ferry captain, and a stickler for observing the proprieties, and certainly was not going to let his beloved Granddaughter anywhere NEAR the water without the top-of-the-line life jacket.)
We'd had a lovely day, and were all hot and languid after a day in the sun. Stepdad tempted JF with a run on the JetSki, so he was off, tooling around on one of those high-end water toys. I decided to cool off by taking a dip in the river, so I was about 20 feet out, swimming and holding onto one of the lines from the boat to keep from washing away in the strong current. Stepdad was tying off the boat, and taking the coolers and other assorted things off of the boat. Mom was helping little Offspring off of the boat. Offspring was complaining that she was warm in her life jacket, so Mom took it off of her, intending to cool her off with water from the hose. In the split second that Mom's eyes were off of her to pick up the hose, Offspring fell between the dock and the boat. Offspring was only four, and did not know how to swim. She sank like a stone in the murky, silty water.
I don't think I've ever seen the entire family move that fast before. I swam 20 feet in seconds, Stepdad leapt from the opposite end of the dock, and immediately thrust his hand in the water, seeking something, anything, of Offspring to grab hold of. We all had tears streaming down our faces, and my Mom stood there, in shock, wailing her name. My heart beat stopped -- my baby was down there!
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, but was in reality only a few seconds, Stepdad saw fingers. He yanked her up, hard, by her arm, pulling her from the depths of the water with amazing swiftness. Offspring burst into tears for a second, and then said "[Stepdad] saved me!" We all fell to the deck, blubbering and hugging each other. We all prayed, thanking God for saving our precious baby. JF arrived back to the dock on the JetSki, unaware, to find us all collapsed in a heap , clutching Offspring for all we were worth.
After we all calmed down, we decided that we didn't want Offspring to be traumatized by water, so we took her right from Mom's house to a friend's pool. We let her play in the water, all the while watching with eagle eyes. Offspring no longer seemed to be too shaken up, so we gently tell her that we live around water, and we need to be aware of not only its glories, but also its dangers. We tell her that there's nothing to worry over, and she calmly says, "My [Stepdad] will save me." And to this day, she still loves the water.
I still haven't recovered. I still have nightmares of her drowning.