Saturday, June 9, 2007

Their Lives Flashed Before My Eyes

Two scares this week, and that's enough for me, thank you.

The first one happened on Wednesday. I'd had just about enough of the Bobos ("big brothers"), so I hauled them off to their room for a nap. Naps are rare for the boys these days because if they nap, they don't go to bed until at LEAST 9:00 if not much later, but some days I just can't wait for bedtime to restore my sanity.

We read some books, then I got up to put Paige to bed. Owen started whining that he wasn't tired, didn't want to sleep, needed a snack etc. If he's tired enough to sleep, he doesn't usually argue, so I told him he could go out and quietly watch a movie on the couch. Mitch was already snuggled in and content, so he stayed put. As I left the room, John came in to take a cat nap and have a snuggle with Mitch. I put Paige to bed.

When I came out 20 minutes later, John was back at the computer, and the house was quiet. Really, really quiet. Owen wasn't in the family room, so I checked the playroom. No Owen. I asked John where Owen was, expecting him to tell me he'd come to bed after all, but he didn't know either. As John started calling Owen's name, a flutter of panic passed through my gut, and a gruesome slide show of possibilities--seriously awful scenarios--started up in my brain: kidnapping, freak accident, crossing the street alone, wandering through the neighborhood... I didn't think Owen would leave the house without permission, but we could not find him.

We'd already looked in the bedroom once, but John went back in to check again, and I followed. As I entered the doorway, I noticed, at the same time John did, a spot of blue under the covers: Owen's shirt. And there he was, sprawled on the bed, thumb half out of his mouth, glasses still on, a puddle of drool on his pillow. He'd crawled into bed unnoticed, pulled the covers over his head, and gone to sleep, and John hadn't seen him when he left the room. Oh thank god. Thank god thank god thank god.

Suddenly, the 30 minutes of quiet I was after didn't seem quite so desirable, after having imagined our loud-mouthed, relentlessly needy, sometimes purely obnoxious first born child lost or maimed somewhere out in the world.

The second scare was last night.

We were at the pool and had finally convinced Mitch that he could safely stand in the 2 feet. After finding his footing, he went from deathly afraid of swimming in the big pool (though the 2 feet is in a roped off area that gets no deeper than 3 feet), to exuberantly fearless.

John was standing in the 2 feet with Mitch while pulling Paige around in her floaty, and I was with Owen, who was trying to work up the courage to swim underwater to the other side of the rope. My back was to John and Mitch and Paige. Suddenly, John barked, "Ashley!" in his panicked, do something NOW voice, and I whipped around to see what was happening. But I didn't see anything. Then I spotted him. Mitch, right behind me and nearly completely underwater, his face--blotchy, red and wracked with panic--turned up to keep it above the surface. While John was busy with Paige, Mitch had followed Owen and me from the 2 feet into the 3, and the water had gotten too deep.

I snatched him up, and he started burping and spitting up water, head on my shoulder. I kept him there well after he'd stopped coughing, feeling his furious heart beat against my chest.

That heart beat filled me with a powerful sense of relief and despair. We'd been within a hair's breath of something awful happening, and we hadn't seen it coming. That's the way of tragedy. It does not announce itself. It is sneaky and vile and forever right around the corner.

But we'd kept it at bay one more time. Thank god thank god thank god.

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