|Friday, Jul. 25, 2003 || Canada or bust, Part 1|
We started out this year’s vacation with about a third of the planning that we put into our west coast trip last year. I am not sure if it was lack of time or motivation, but except for the planned stay in MD with the family and a jaunt up to the Hershey, PA area, we really didn’t have a firm schedule. We just knew we wanted to see as much of New England as we could.
We left a few hours after church on Sunday, July 6th. Columbus, OH is about halfway, so we did think ahead enough to reserve a room on the east side of the city. On the way, Rob called his dad and step-mom, who were at their trailer in western MD. It was evident rather quickly that he wanted to stop by there on Monday (it is on the way) and stay the night, leaving after lunch on Tuesday. I found myself becoming a little resentful of this idea as the miles clicked by.
I do like his folks. The kids have a great time with them. The camp is nice and there is plenty of room at their trailer. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that we wouldn’t get to Janie’s until late on Tuesday, and Mar and her gang would only be there till Saturday morning. That meant only three days with all of our families together, for the first time in three years. And one of those days would be spent at The Picture People trying to corral 10 hopefully-smiling children into a photo or two.
Rob and I have this amazing way of communicating with one another where we both totally miss what the other is saying. This lasted through most of Illinois and into Indiana. Actually, come to think of it, we hadn’t even come to terms with our difference of opinions in this matter until we left the hotel (which, as previously mentioned, was in OH) on Monday morning.
(And, much to the kids’ and my chagrin, said hotel’s Belgian waffle maker was kaput. We had to settle for cereal and Otis Spunkmeyer muffins. At least Kaytlin was pleased with the double chocolate chip one.)
I am happy to report that some 300+ miles and a few pouty lips and cold stares later, Rob and I came to the agreement that we would stop in western MD and spend the night, but we would leave right after breakfast.
We arrived at the camp with about a half an hour to spare for swim time. The kiddos threw on their suits and we all headed up to the pool with the parentage. Rob and I decided we’d pass on the whole getting wet thing and sat on the edge of the pool, feet dangling, talking to his folks and watching the kiddos.
I forgot to grab Parker’s swimmies, but he had one of those noodles to hang on to. He bounced around in the shallow end. At one point I noticed he didn’t have the noodle anymore, but he was close by and the water was below his shoulders.
I don’t know how to describe the next 10 to 30 seconds of my life, but it was as if someone whispered in my ear, though I heard nothing. I just felt…I don’t know…my momma’s sixth sense kicked into gear, I guess.
“Where’s Parker?” I asked.
It didn’t even enter my rational thoughts that he would not be simply walking along the edge of the pool, which is exactly where I began to look. I heard a huge splash to my left and in my peripheral vision caught a glimpse of Rob diving into the water.
In that instant I saw what no parent ever wants to see and what will be forever engraved in my memory:
The small blonde head of a child just under the water. Completely still. One arm raised as if in mid-salute.
I remember screaming, “Oh my God! OH MY GOD!”
It all happened in a matter of seconds. Rob had him in his arms and as they came up out of the water, Parker’s eyes were wide open and he took a deep breath. He sputtered a bit as Rob sat him on the side of the pool, but you could tell immediately that he had not taken on any water.
He was fine, just a bit shaken.
Seconds. It was just a few seconds.
And we were all right there. I can't begin to describe how I felt. Terrified to overwhelming relief in the blink of an eye. And then the unsettling guilt that I had failed my child.Rob later told me, "But you didn't, Nicole. You alerted us all. You noticed he was gone."That night, Parker told us, “I was bouncing and then I couldn’t get up and I was looking around and I was trying to get up to you guys.”
If I have thanked God once I have thanked Him a hundred times for his precious little life. I just hung onto my dripping-wet little one, kissing his head, the two of us shaking in tandem, me from sheer relief, he from the chill of the approaching dusk.
Just a few days before, Rob was teaching Parker to hold his breath under water at a friend’s pool. Boy, did Parker hate it. But in that instant where he lost his footing, he didn’t panic, and he held his breath.
As we were leaving the pool, we realized that Rob’s glasses were missing. Kaytlin found them on the bottom of the pool.
I am thankful for a daddy who didn’t think before he reacted. It really didn’t matter, in retrospect, whose child it was. A child was in trouble, and he didn’t hesitate.
And I am thankful for whatever it is that bristled the hairs on my arms and alerted my momma’s heart.
Sixth sense? An angel’s whisper?
I’m not sure. And it doesn’t really matter. What I do know and what does matter is that I am thankful, oh so thankful, that I can still kiss all three of my little angels tonight.
(If you are a parent and you are reading this, please, please don't let your child into a pool without a flotation device until you KNOW they can swim. I went against my better judgement and let him in that pool without those swimmies. It could have been so, so much worse. Please, protect your children!)
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A good end - Friday, Jun. 01, 2007
Moving on? Yes and no. - Monday, May. 07, 2007