Yesterday I came incredibly close to losing my first born child and my youngest cousin. This story has a happy ending. It is a story that I want to share though. I have been talking about it a lot all day, if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you know this, except, as the day has progressed the initial shock of it has worn off. I actually cried about it for the first time this afternoon. I cry at commercials, songs, shows, movies, and books, so for me to not have tears until 24 hours later means I was taking time to process this.
We arrived at a family party yesterday afternoon. Jackson loves their pool and immediately wanted to go swimming. He is a strong swimmer. He has been swimming unassisted for over a year. He has been in water since he was 3 months old. We are human fishes. We are merpeople! Ha! I lathered him up in sunblock and sent him on his way. There was a large number of adults outside right by the pool. My cousin Gavin was also swimming. I thought nothing of it.
I chased down Alex with sunblock, then I pinned my squiggly toddler to the floor to get his face covered. I handed him to my dad and started to apply my sunblock. Jason had been standing nearby. Then he wasn’t there anymore. Then someone came and told me Jackson and Gavin almost drowned. I don’t remember who. Or exactly how it was phrased. I had tunnel vision. I looked out the window as I dashed outside, seeing my husband lifting Jackson off of the pool ladder. My aunt was getting out of the pool as well, soaking wet, fully clothed. I made my way over and saw my child shaking and hugging his dad. Then I got the story.
Gavin’s arm floats had fallen off at some point. He began to struggle. Jackson saw him. His first instinct was to swim over, grab his cousin, try to help him up, and then begin to swim towards safety. Gavin began to panic and pulled the both of them under. Which is a pretty normal reaction to drowning. You hear about that happening a lot. My aunt Bridget trying to reach for them from the outside of the pool. My aunt Jenny jumped into the pool, in her clothing, to save both boys.
Jackson is 5 years old. He tried to save someone’s life. He tried to save his cousin’s life. He told me last night that he just tried to hold his breath as long as he could when he was going under. He did his best. The amount of calmness this child dealt with this entire situation astounds me. He was calm enough to see someone drowning and tried his best to save that person. He didn’t freeze or scream, he went in to help, not even thinking of the possible outcomes. Then he was calm enough while struggling to remember to hold his breath under water. He is 5 years old! 5!
Both boys were fine. They are both fine today. Jackson is a bit banged up. He has some scratches on his neck. I noticed those this afternoon. Both boys got back in the pool a little later. No further situations developed. I was glad they both felt safe enough to try and swim again.
Yesterday I could have lost my son and cousin or just one of them. Our family could be spending our Monday a lot differently. We could be in a hospital hoping someone pulled through. We could be planning a funeral for a tiny human. The magnitude of that is not lost on me. I am thankful that Jackson saw Gavin and that pulled the adults’ attention to the pool. I am thankful my aunt reacted quickly enough to save both children. It makes me sick that I was inside chatting away with my Dad about freaking sunscreen! As I slathered it on my arms. I know I could not have known what was about to happen. I know these things happen in the blink of an eye. I know that they are both safe. But in a different blink of an eye that all could have ended tragically.
I have been cherishing my sweet boy today. We checked on him as he slept last night. I rubbed his face and covered him with a blanket. I have been calling him a hero, because he is. I told him he is a good person and so very brave. I let him pick out a toy at the store and any treats he wanted. I have hugged and kissed him. We built lego sets and played a board game over and over. I let him listen to the song he wanted in the car over and over. He had his summer reading tutor over this afternoon. We told her the story. As I was saying it out loud I lost it. I told her that is the first time I had started to cry thinking of what could have happened. She said, “yeah I bet you were in shock still. I am going to cry!” I think that is a fair conclusion.
He makes the world a better place, even if he hadn’t done what he did. He is so bright and sunny. He is so personable and friendly. He can talk for hours. He lights up the world. The world could have lost that light yesterday. I am so thankful that I get to continue to raise this incredible human being.
After we got home and the boys in bed, we were cleaning up the kitchen. It was a disaster. I was exhausted. I kept grumbling about all the dishes and mess. My husband said to me “Better dirty dishes to complain about than only having one kid.” I was confused at first but then he explained what he meant. Our complaints could have been far more serious last night. I will take a kitchen full of dirty dishes at the end of a long weekend over losing my sweet child any day.