Drowning: How to breathe when tragedy strikes

Have you ever tried to save someone who was drowning? I remember when the kids were little, we went to Turner Falls as a family. There is this huge water slide in the water that Braden really wanted to go down. He was probably only 4 or 5. Now, my kids started swimming the moment their umbilical chords dried up, so they are water babies. However, this was a really high slide, with brown water you couldn’t see to the bottom of, and no lifeguards. Fun fact about me, I HATE lakes, creeks, and rivers…It’s not really my scene. I can do the ocean, I love oceans. Oceans are big, large salt and sand filtration, decently clear bodies of water. I will do a clear, decently flowing river (again, it’s about filtration for me), but that’s about it. This was a large deep pool at the end of the river, which was…less than clear. But the kids were not going down that slide without me at the bottom. So, I waited at the bottom of the slide my mom waited between the slide and the rocks, and my sisters were on the rocks ready to receive kids. Here comes Braden, my adventurer, down the slide, popping up with the biggest smile on his face. I watched him swim to mom and focused my attention back on the slide where my more timed, older child was at the top freaking out. Here’s what I missed. Apparently, between my mom and the rocks was a current, making Braden unable to get to the rocks. He was struggling, so my mother went over to help him, but in helping him, she almost drowned herself. Forgetting he had a life jacket, she was trying to get him to safety and was going under. My sister had to save her. I didn’t even know it was happening until Britt came down the slide and I got over there to see my sister pulling my mom up from under the water. That’s what we do for our kids (and grandkids) right? We will go down to try and hold them up. However, my mom wasn’t helping Braden, she was trying, but what she couldn’t see was that while trying to hold him up, she was keeping that life jacket from doing it’s job, and she was holding him down as much as she was pushing him forward.

I’m so there. Tragedy struck our family when my daughter was diagnosed. the last year has been all about holding her up, making sure she felt as little of the pain and life change as possible, wanting to shield her from anything I could. In the process, I was so focused on being the one sacrificing that I forgot to make sure I was getting air, and I didn’t even realize the waves that were still knocking her down while I was underwater, or when I was the one holding her under instead of holding her up, because I couldn’t see. To be honest, I’ve been thinking this whole time…”she’s standing on me gulping air, I’m the one who’s not gonna make it…”

We believe in Jesus Christ, and I forgot that He was her life jacket. I’m not saying He didn’t put me here to help her get to the other side, He did, but I can’t save her, and I can’t help her get there if I’m not breathing. That old, put on your own oxygen mask before you assist others obviously has some truth to it. But it’s not what any of us with children would ever do is it? Nope, we’ll put their’s on, and then black out and not realize that what we’ve done is left them to try and save us when we’re then falling apart.

I’m now realizing I needed air, and I’m trying to turn the ship. Self care is an important thing, something we aren’t good at as mothers especially. We don’t know how to put ourselves first, it feels selfish…greedy…wrong. In the meantime, I’ve actually been selfish because I’ve not been focusing on her, I’ve been focusing on sacrificing myself, but I’ve missed a lot of what’s happening to her…not to mention what’s happening to me. I’m not quite sure what all I need to do yet, but I know I’ve started a new ladies group this Fall and that is a huge step in the right direction. If I knew someone with a cabin in the middle of nowhere that I could spend a week at in complete solitude, I probably would jump for joy…but since I don’t, I am going to carve out moments of solitude, because I’ve been needing them. It’s the air I’ve been missing. I’ve started walking my dogs again, because my husband is home in the evenings, and I can (why haven’t I been doing that???). And I’m re instituting bath time, because I need it, desperately (with wine of course). And…this might be the biggest one…Matt and I have started Tuesday night date night, because our daughter stays at a trusted friends house every Tuesday, who’s mom is a nurse. What a gift! Until recently, dates had become obsolete the last year. It’s just enough self care to keep me sane, to help me see outside of myself, and this tragedy, and to help me breath again.

There is light at the end of tragedy, and as a new friend reminded me last night, there is so much to be thankful for. I am beyond thankful for these realized opportunities of breath….and for wine ;).


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