Friday, June 10, 2011

Boy, 2 1/2, drowns in back yard pool

That was the headline in the Hamilton Spectator on Monday and is actually a headline that repeats every spring with slight variations.

It could have been about our family.

Where is the Life Jacket?

The events of the day were determined when little Elizabeth followed me to the edge of the pool that fine spring morning and quietly reminded me about “that thing I put on,” but I ignored her. The previous year we had insisted she always wear a life jacket within the vicinity of the pool.

Maybe it was her caution that lulled me into feeling secure. Besides, I couldn’t remember where I had stored the life jacket. “We’ll have to look for that, later,” I said. Meanwhile, I continued vacuuming a layer of leaves from the bottom of the pool. The pool seemed in good shape this year. It helped that I knew what I was doing. I already had two-thirds of the vacuuming done. The filter was set on “drain” to send this spring debris directly to the sewer and I had a hose with fresh clean water pouring into the pool at the shallow end—a hose which Elizabeth leaned over to examine. “Be careful,” I cautioned. About then I noticed my vacuum had stopped sucking. I examined the vacuum head, then decided to check the filter basket at the pump inside the garage. I didn’t see Elizabeth. I didn’t even think about Elizabeth.

Sure enough the filter basket in the garage was completely clogged. I turned off the pump, pulled out the several handfuls of leaves and started the system up again. Suddenly I remembered Elizabeth. I ran back to the pool in a panic. There she was in the middle of the pool, like a rag doll floating face down. I jumped in and scooped her up, screaming for help. Angela and Allison appeared immediately.

“Call 911! Get Dad!” I commanded. By the time I had Elizabeth to the edge of the pool, Marty was there to perform CPR as if it was something he did every day. I prayed in tongues. It was all I could do. I was in shock.

Within minutes the paramedics arrived. Taking charge, they said we had done all the right things. Full of guilt, I knew that not making the life jacket a priority hadn’t been the right thing at all.

At the hospital nurses took Elizabeth into a room and cut away her little flowered dress. A team of specialists surrounded her. We sat in a waiting area, praying. Pastor Sharon from church prayed with us. She prayed that Elizabeth’s lungs would be whole and well. She prayed that her brain would not be damaged. She prayed that I wouldn’t carry the guilt.

Shortly after that a doctor talked to us. He spoke of possible damage to the lungs. He spoke of a likelihood of brain damage. We told him we had prayed and were believing for those things not to happen.

The next day the doctor approached us, “Well, it looks like you got your miracle. The brain scan shows no damage.” We were elated. Further tests showed that her lungs were clear as well.

On Saturday evening when we finally had Elizabeth home, tucked in bed, Marty and I were relaxing with a coffee in the family room. “I wouldn’t want to go through a week like that, again,” I reflected. Marty agreed.

Was that Elizabeth crying upstairs? Then the door bell rang. I went for the stairs while Marty answered the door.

“Your baby is on the roof!” announced the neighbour at the door. Sure enough Elizabeth had let herself down from the bedroom window onto the latticed deck roof.

I never want to go through a week like that again.

The words “it was credited to him (Abraham)” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. (Romans 4:23—24)

Grace, the grace of God, is what saved us that week. My own righteousness was as limp as a rag doll in the middle of a pool. By His righteousness we could pray and believe for life and health for our little girl. By His grace He answered.

This story can be found in the book, Blooming, This Pilgrim’s Progress.

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