Camping was amazing. We all had a great time, La-la loved walking the trails, picking flowers the whole way. We all went swimming, she giggled when the little fish nibbled her toes, hilarious. Bonfires at night, dune-buggy rides during the day, huge meals, a seemingly never-ending supply of doughnuts, snacks, burgers, shish-kabobs, and all things camping and outdoorsie. It was so beautiful, trees, the lake, the people, the pups, I honestly can't wait to go back. Friday and Saturday were great, and went by much too fast. Sunday will live in an icy, terrified corner of my heart and mind for a very long time, maybe forever.
Sunday started out the same as the other days, other than I was starting to feel a little worn around the edges. Fybro does that, doesn't matter how great a time I am having or what I want to do I always know that I will pay for it later (not in all cases but a lot). So I was getting physically tired, and in a way glad that it was almost time to go home. After we got done with breakfast and cleanup, La-la and I walked down towards the lake and started taking turns throwing the ball for one of the pups. Her "throws" are funny, and she gets such a kick out of the pup fetching it and bringing it back for another go. It was my turn, La-la was standing on my right, and I pitched that sucker to the moon. And fell. My feet got tangled in a forgotten dog lead, and I fell hard. I got up and looked over to see if La-la was laughing at me, she usually does, and she was gone. My back was turned for a second or two max, and she had managed to disappear. I think in my heart I already knew but didn't want to accept. I quickly took stock of my surroundings, I looked up where New Beau was to see if she had wandered that way. No La-la. I looked over to the gazebo. Not there either. I turned with ice in my heart and sprinted to the edge of the small dip that led to the water, and to my absolute horror, there she was. Totally submerged in the lake water, her legs were rolling, and in the millisecond that it took me to react I could see her fighting to reach the surface. I ran like a mad woman straight into the lake, snatched her out, and ran back out to the bank banging on her back the whole time. She coughed and sputtered, and then began to wail. There was no splash when she went in, no warning, nothing, and that is maybe one of the scarier parts. She was drowning, and had I not been right there, I wouldn't have even known. That is terrifying beyond what words can express.
Once I got her out, and held her close for over an hour, I got us both into dry clothes and held her some more. All I could think about was what a failure I was, how could I have let this happen, tears streamed steady down my cheeks at the thought of what could have been. I had almost lost the most important person in my life. I couldn't fathom it, and to be honest I am still wrestling with it. I was right there, I wasn't on my phone, or chatting with someone and not paying attention. I was right there playing with my girl and our pup, how did this happen. How could I have failed so completely while trying so hard to do right. Everyone hailed me like a conquering hero, congratulating me on saving her, and being there. I still felt like it was my fault, couldn't understand why they were congratulating me, and acting like I had done something good. To be honest I still kind of feel like a crappy parent for letting it happen but, after a few of my Dad's "not parent of the year" stories about me and my brother, I feel a little better.
The moral of this story is, and I will try not to get too sappy because I am not good at it, hold your loved ones close. Appreciate you family and friends, tell them how much you love them, because life is short. It can be ripped away at any time, without warning. Hug your babies a little tighter. I want you all to know how much I truly appreciate you and your feedback and emails.It makes my day to find an unexpected email in my inbox, amid the crap I let collect there because I'm too lazy to clean it out. Thank you all for taking the time to take this journey with me, I appreciate you all. I do hope that your own defining moments don't come in such a hard form. Be ready for them, and remember they can only impact you negatively if you let them. Use them to learn and grow. I know I have learned, and I will use that knowledge to prevent future tragedy. I will use it as a tool to grow as a parent, and to understand that I do not and can not control everything, I can make different decisions, so the things that happen that are out of my control are not disastrous.
I am sharing this with you, after several days of debating whether to post about it, to hopefully help you avoid what I went through, and the trauma that is going with it. There are repercussions from it. I have had nightmares since it happened, the picture of her in the water will be burned into my brain for eternity, and the thought of what could have been still takes my breath away. So even though this was difficult, I needed to share.
Hoping for less haunted sleep,