It took ten minutes to create the perfect storm of distractions that allowed my 2-year-old to make her way out to the swimming pool unattended. We had just arrived at my in-laws’ house with a car full of kids and two car-sick puppies. My husband was begrudgingly cleaning up dog pee and vomit out of the car, and I was greeting my mother-in-law. Usually, when we go to my in-laws’ house my daughters are notorious for beelining it to the back patio where the little jungle gym sits. I thought nothing of it when both girls ran outside. My husband was outside too, cleaning. We just walked in the door.
Unbeknownst to myself, my husband, and my mother-in-law, the gate separating the patio from the pool was propped wide open. Little Amelia has a wild spirit and a fearless heart — both my favorite thing about her and the scariest thing about her. She went straight to the pool; we swim all the time. She was thinking she has this. She was thinking it was time to swim and she could do it… so she did. She got into the water without the slightest clue of how to swim without her puddle jumper.
By the grace of God, my husband happened to look over and saw her little bum in the water, fighting, moving, searching for breath. Jake ran and pulled her out and threw her over his knee and started patting her back hoping to help her throw up any water. Her lips had no color, her body was literally losing life with every second she was in the water. Once she coughed up the water, color returned to her face. She cried and continued to catch her breath.
Amelia rarely gets scared. When I tell you she is fearless, I mean girl is fear-less. That day Jake pulled her out of the water, I could see a look of sheer terror in her face. This mama’s heart broke at that moment as she clutched me with her little hands like she never wanted me to let go. She could not articulate her struggle to breathe after choking up the water, but we could all see it.
I took her to the ER immediately. She had aspirated water into her lungs, so they monitored her for 5-6 hours of us arriving in case a ‘secondary drowning’ or pulmonary edema happened. She did great, all her vitals remained consistent and where they were supposed to be during those 6 hours. The doctors sent us home with our discharge papers reading ‘Cause of visit: near-drowning.’ Boy, was that a gut punch. My child was seconds away from dying.
Many people that day told me I was abnormally calm. I cannot explain how I was processing my daughter nearly drowning in the moment it was happening. It honestly did not feel real. Amelia is very accident-prone because of the nature of who she is. From the moment she was mobile, I spent all my time keeping her from hurting herself. She loves climbing, exploring, running, falling, discovering, eating, tasting everything. As I was processing the events that unfolded, it just felt like another one of those accidents.
Your first instinct as a parent is just to make sure your kid is okay, you do not have time to have emotion. You just do what you gotta do. The emotions flooded later, especially for my husband. He found her. He had the mental image of her struggling in the water. He was first to see the horror in her face. All he could think about was how scared she must have been in the seconds she could not breathe. Your mind immediately goes to the what-ifs. What if we did not find her in time? What if you did not just happen to look right at the pool? It is hard not to put yourself in the worst-case scenario, and although we can not begin to imagine the pain of losing a child, even the thought of losing her was enough to bring us to our knees.
For me, I struggled the most thinking about the families who have lost their children to drowning. Why were we so fortunate to still have our daughter and there are so many families who were not? I spent a lot of moments grieving for those families. I hurt for them, I wept for them, I was angry for them. In the days to come, we spent time just being thankful for Amelia’s life and thanking Jesus that He still had a plan for her on this earth.
You see, I think I had so much peace during that horrific evening because I knew I serve a God who will not abandon us in our trials and pain. It feels easy to say because I still get to hold Amelia, but I know even under the worst outcome of this day, Jesus would have walked us through that pain and used it for good. He loves and cares for Amelia even more than we do. He created her and had a plan for her life long before she was even a thought of ours. I believe He still has work for her to do here. I believe she still has people to love. I believe her life will be used in ways I cannot even fathom.
It brings me great joy knowing for however long we have her on this earth, God is using her to show others His unending, never-failing, unconditional, precious love. We felt God’s love that day. We were reminded of how precious life is. We were reminded that Jesus weeps when we weep, and He cares that Amelia suffered that day. He cares that we were in agony over the idea of losing her. He cares for the families who have lost their children to drowning.
A total peace that surpasses all understanding came over us and reminded us who really was in control. Spoiler: it is not us. As parents, we try to do everything we can imagine to keep our kids safe from this world. We can give our kids swim lessons, we can make sure gates are always closed and locked, we can follow our kids around and be damage control, but ultimately, we have no control. Bad things happen.
Our world is imperfect, we are imperfect, but we serve a perfect God. From the beginning of time, He’s fought for us over and over again. He allows pain to remind us how much we need Him. He is the only one who gives life to our dry bones. He is the only one who turns our pain into praise. We do not always find joy in our circumstances, but there will always be joy found in who God is. God is good; He is all-powerful, He is love, He is perfect, He is unchanging, He is just, He is merciful and forgiving, He is sovereign, He is faithful, He is comfort.
God uses all of us and He deeply cares for every one of us, even the kids whose lives were cut short, even the grieving parents who cannot understand losing their child. He cares for you. He created you. He loves you. You are valuable to Him without condition. We will not understand everything that happens on this earth, but we can rest knowing there is a bigger plan curated by the creator of the universe, a plan for good and hope. Take heart.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Sydney Crimmins of Mesa, AZ. You can follow her journey on Instagram and her blog. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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