Sixteen year old Ethan was recovering from pneumonia and had spent four days on the couch. On the fifth day, he was finally feeling healthy enough to walk down the hilly front yard to the pond with his fishing pole. As he sat in the bright sunshine, dressed warmly and wearing his straw hat, his little brother Seth played next to him. Both boys were on the dock when I walked down with my camera, and their little sister Sarah was playing nearby, too. She was wearing a warm coat, but was barefoot. Seth had already dropped his jacket on the ground and was happily pretending to fish with a long, thin stick, wearing a pair of jeans and a thin t-shirt.
Ethan situated himself at the end of the long wooden dock with his feet dangling over the deep green water, and I moved away to the side of the pond in order to take a photo of him. He looked like the quintessential country boy and I was pleased that he was feeling well enough to be outdoors. The ice had just melted off the pond a week before and the beautiful water looked irresistible to the young fishermen.
Seth decided to leave the dock and take his “fishing pole” to a large, slopping rock. He was now perfectly placed between Ethan and myself. He squatted down with his little bare feet, in order to drop the end of his stick into the water.
I took another picture or two and all was well. What a lovely moment of a beautiful day. I began to smile and dream about sitting down and putting my feet up.
Just then, we heard a quick sliding and a splash. Ethan and I both turned to look and realized immediately that Seth had lost his footing and slipped into the deep water. We hesitated for a second, it had happened so fast and we wondered if he could simply touch bottom and pull himself out. Our boy Seth’s eyes were huge as he gasped. His little hands were paddling the water as fast as they could go. Ethan I both realized at once that he needed help. We ran to the edge and Ethan stepped into the water and leaned over to offer his arm to Seth. I had my long scarf in my hands to use, as well.
Seth was entirely submerged in freezing water, with only his head above it. The look on his face was so sad, he looked scared to death (a look I never see on his face no matter what dangerous thing he’s doing…..it is usually a look of great delight). He made pitiful distress noises as he grabbed Ethan’s arm and allowed himself to be pulled up and out.
“Seth, Seth! Run up to the house and dry off! You need different clothes on!”
I took his hand and together we ran to the house. I think he was in shock because he started to cry about his shirt and saying it would “dry in the sun”.
We ran through the front door and up the stairs. I took his soaked clothes off as quickly as I could and wrapped him in two towels. His teeth were chattering but he wanted to know what was wrong. Why didn’t he go anywhere while his arms were swimming so fast in the water? Why couldn’t he swim when “he was five now”? It was mind boggling to him.
“I’m never going on that rock again!”
In utter relief that he was okay, I got the giggles as I worked his dry clothes onto him.
“Mom, why do you keep laughing?”
“I’m just so happy you’re okay!”
“I’m glad I’m okay, too. I don’t want to die. I wonder what it will feel like to die.”
“I should have taken a picture of you in the water,” I teased.
“NO YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE!”
It took me two hours to recover from it all….as I imagined what would have happened if we were not right there when he fell into the water that was so very deep and over his head. I have to believe it was all for the best. Seth lives adventurously (recklessly) so I am of the opinion that God allowed this to happen to teach him an important lesson. A little fear would do him good.
Every spring I make a note of the first child to go swimming in the pond. Today marks The Day and for the first time Seth gets the honor: April 10, 2014. He said the water “was cold”.
As for Ethan, after catching nothing but his brother from the pond, he went back inside the warm and quiet house. He took off his hat and pulled his boots off, letting them hit the floor. I warmed up the corn bag and gave it to him, and he drifted off back to sleep on the couch.
We were only outside for 20 minutes.
(the rescuer, sleeping with the warm cornbag on his chest)