Earlier this summer I read a post about what drowning really looks like.
This weekend, I saw it for myself.
We spent the day at my dad’s house for a family pool party, which is always a little bit stressful as we keep track of four little ones — who are at times overly brave in the water — in the midst of conversations and chaos.
After a brief break to eat, the girls hopped back in the pool for another swim while Sean and I stood on the side keeping track of them.
Our six-year-old put on a floaty and swam to the deeper part of the pool (my dad’s pool has a large one-foot deep area that is perfect for lounging or for the little ones to play, but she’s at the age that she doesn’t want to be stuck in the “baby pool”).
I stood scanning the pool over and over, counting heads again and again.
And then I blinked and started my count one more time.
When I got to the 6-year-old this time, she was silent and still…and underwater.
She was still upright, but there was no thrashing or splashing.
She was simply floating under the water, with her arms stretched out to the sides, staring at me with a blank look on her face.
In that moment, time seemed to be rushing by and at a standstill all at once.
I said to Sean, “Sean…Dylan!” and was trying to decide whether to jump in myself (which would have been quite the sight since I was wearing a cotton sundress and not a bathing suit!).
Based on some comments, I feel the need to add a note here: To be very clear, the thought of what I was wearing did not cross my mind for even a second as this was happening. I added it — like the note above about the shape of my dad’s pool — as I was recounting what had happened, but it played no part in my decision to jump in the water or not jump in the water. Knowing that there was a family member who was closer to her than I was and could get to her faster was the only deciding factor.
Then I said to a nearby family member, who was in the water just feet away: “Jason, can you get Dylan?” — all in an eerily calm voice because that’s how I tend to react to emergencies.
He didn’t respond at first, and my mind began racing again, but his wife realized what was going on and repeated my words.
He turned around and with all of the training of a former lifeguard scooped her right up and out of the water.
As soon as her face broke the surface she began to sob and cough and dry heave….beautiful sounds in that moment.
We sat and cuddled on the side for quite some time before encouraging her to sit back in the pool (safe and sound in the shallow end), which she eventually did, walking on her hands and swimming around that area like nothing had happened.
I can’t quite get the picture of her little face staring up at me from under the water out of my head, and I’m not sure I’ll ever forget it. But I am so, so thankful to have read that article so that I instantly recognized what was happening.
I sincerely hope you’ll take a moment to go read it as well.
|Mandi Ehman is the blogger behind Life Your Way. She and her husband have four beautiful girls plus one baby boy on the way, and together, they live, work and homeschool on a little slice of heaven in wild, wonderful West Virginia. She loves coffee, chocolate, easy meals, beautiful things and minimalist spaces.|