Today I saw a rescue on the beach. It scared the shit out of me. First the woman staggering out of the surf, being lifted and carried, then the lifeguards signaling to someone still out in the water, finally leaping in – first one, then another, and dragging an unconscious man out and laying him onto the sand. A group of rescue personnel kneeling over him, working on him, slapping him and shouting. His family behind me, his children shouting and crying, “daddy, daddy!”
It was almost too much. I started to lose it, started to cry and then hyperventilate. The only reason I didn’t pass out is because I thought I had to get a handle on myself because I had R there, I could not create another emergency and abandon him. So I calmed myself the hell down.
Thank God, I think the man is ok.
But for a minute – more than a minute – I thought he was going to die right there and his children would see it happen and they would lose their father right in front of their very eyes and I could not handle it. Bad enough that what I saw today reminded me too much of when JJ died and EMS and firefighters were all surrounding my bed and he was laid out, not moving. But the children. That terror. No.
I am not really afraid to die. I look forward to the day when I can see JJ again and I’m so curious about what it’s like on the other side of the veil. But I was afraid to see that man die, afraid for his family and the trauma and grief it would bring on them.
I’m so grateful to the rescue workers who saved those people today.
Later, after everything was long over and we were getting ready to leave I took R down to the water to wash off the sand he dumped down the front of his swimsuit and in the spray of the waves – as brief as the blink of an eye – I saw a rainbow.
I felt weak and helpless and small and fragile when I didn’t know if that man was going to live. How quickly life can just be snatched away from us even in the moments when we are happiest – like this family on vacation. Or like JJ celebrating the birth of his son. In that tiny moment the rainbow showed me that I was ok. It felt like a hand on my shoulder, steadying me. It felt like reassurance. It reminded me that there are forces greater than me at work.
I am safe. I am protected. I am not alone.