Before you go any further I want to warn you – this is a sad story. There may be triggers here for some of you. If you’re here for my humor and happy-go-lucky day to day life, this one shows the cracks. A thing happened and it’s hanging over me so I’m here to talk about it. If you don’t want to read, I understand.
On Saturday we went to the beach. It was a cloudy windy day, but it was nice to be out with the family. The waves were impressive – higher than I’ve ever seen them on Lake Ontario. We let The Wee Baby T run about in the sand for a while before I realized we hadn’t put any sunscreen on him. He was covered in sand so I walked him down to the water line to rinse the sand off his feet. I remember being surprised at how strong the undertow was, the water was just up to my ankles and I could really sense the sand pulling out from under my feet. “That’s pretty strong” I thought to myself “I can’t believe that guy is swimming in this.” There was someone just outside my field of vision. I only saw him for a moment, seemingly jumping through the raging surf.
I brought my son back up the beach to where we had set up and started smothering him in sunscreen when I heard the lifeguard’s air horn and instantly knew what was happening – he wasn’t jumping in the waves, he was trying to get out. He was drowning.
I emptied my pockets and took off my shirt, ready to turn and charge back but K stopped me with a firm “Kevin – don’t.” She was right, I may have been a lifeguard when I was 18, but I haven’t swam in years and I’m not exactly in top shape. All that would happen if I went in was they would need to rescue 2 people. I handed her my phone and she called 911, and I went to look-out hoping that with an extra set of eyes we might find him before it was too late.
It still haunts me – a head-bobbing up above the surface here, his leg appearing over there. We all shuffled slowly down the shoreline desperate to see him. Every now and again someone would scream “THERE! I SAW HIM, HE’S THERE!” and the lifeguards would charge in only for him to slip below the churning waters again and again.
Finally he was brought ashore. The paramedics arrived and we cleared the beach as he was carried to the ambulance and brought to the hospital in ‘life threatening condition’. He didn’t survive.
K is right, if I had been paying more attention to the man playing in the waves then maybe I would have lost control of T and this post would have been very different.
My brother-in-law is right, It’s not my fault or my job, and I did all I could.
But I can’t stop seeing his head pop above the surface of the water, just off the shore but so far away. I’m sorry, I wish I could have helped you.