It’s been ten years since one of our twin sons almost died in an accident at the beach. (You can read my original post about it here.) Ten years since a stranger intervened and changed the course of our lives. Ten years of being able to hug this child, watch him grow, nurture his faith, support his dreams, enjoy his quirkiness, and give thanks every single day that he is still with us.
Ten years is a long time in the life of a child – it is the difference between a preschooler and a teenager! – but a short time for a mama. Sometimes, I am separated from the horror of nearly losing him by only the barest breath.
Even so, it is easy to forget how precious each day is, how precious every breath is, and how none of it is a given. I’ve had 3653 days with my son that I almost didn’t have, yet many of those days have been marred by my impatience, ingratitude, inattention, and other parental failures. Ten years after a miracle, it is still easy to take things – and people – for granted too often. Which is why anniversaries (not just this one, but also birthdays and anniversaries of both love and loss) hold such importance for me. These markers in time invite me to remember, to reflect, and to recognize again the profound gift of life.
It has been exactly a year since I wrote my last blog post (a major writing project was demanding all my “free” time, and now that it’s completed, I’ve got another huge project on my plate), but I had to come by and mark this anniversary in this space once more. It’s hard sometimes for me to talk about this experience publicly, because I know so many people who have suffered the loss of a child (including in sand hole collapses), and I don’t want my own celebration after a near-loss to be somehow insensitive to parents who grieve. And yet it is precisely this – the fact that any one of us could lose any beloved and precious person at any time – that compels me to write. To live in the awareness of the fragility of life is to discover that every breath is a miracle, every moment we have with anyone we love is a miracle. I got a real honest-to-goodness miracle on the beach that day, thanks to a stranger who was radically open to the stirrings of the Spirit. But each of us is surrounded by miracles every day, and the world is so much better when we treat each other with the awe and wonder and gratitude befitting this reality.
Last summer, we had the amazing experience of meeting Erika Weiland, the woman who saved our son and changed our lives. We had a beautiful time of connecting with her and her dear family (including her brother, who helped pull our son from the sand hole!), and hearing again the story of that day from her perspective. She is an absolute treasure and her faith is an inspiration. I am forever grateful for her and for her openness to being used by God for good.
Not all of us get the chance to save somebody’s life. But every day we have a thousand chances to treat each other as miracles and to make their lives – and the world – better. Ten years after our miracle, I am committed more than ever to doing my part.
[I can’t talk about this story without also reminding everyone about the dangers of sand hole collapses. I had never heard of this happening before it happened to us, but now I read stories of it happening every year, and most of them end in tragedy. Yet it is so easy to prevent – I’ve written about that here.]