Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

Comments on breast cancer by proxy, written by a woman coping with the loss of her mother.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

"Aunt Emilin just saved your life!”

Brooke mentioned the other day that she was surprised I hadn’t blogged about last weekend. I think I was under the impression that blogging about it would be bragging about it. After all, what is a blog except an outlet for all of our narcissistic tendencies? Right now, I feel like bragging is kind of okay, so here’s the deal about last weekend.

Nana is nearly 18 months old. Some toddlers move cautiously about the world. Nana is totally and completely intrepid, and she’s fiercely independent. She also loves the pool at her grandpa’s house, and that is where our story takes place.

On Friday, Paul and Hope spent their last night alone before their son arrives, and Nana stayed with Dad, Brooke, and me at Dad’s house. Brooke and I put Nana in her usual spot: the portable crib in the large guest room where we sleep. She woke up at 5:30 and was able to be lulled back to sleep, snuggled between her aunts. At 7:30, she was up for good. We ate breakfast and woke up her grandpa. She seemed mostly happy but easily frustrated. Brooke and Dad walked around outside with her until she was overcome with rage at being so closely supervised around the pool. Brooke, not a swimmer, didn’t want to let the toddler so close to the pool. Nana, fearless, didn’t want anyone to tell her otherwise. One twenty-minute tantrum later, she was in my arms sniffling and pointing back outside toward the pool. We tried again. Again, tantrum.

The farmer’s market was a hit. The health food store was fascinating. She was getting dozy as we drove home. We decided it was time for a nap.

After an hour of sleep and some lunch, everyone was doing better. Her parents had arrived, and she was pleased to lead them around the pool, to sit on the edge and kick her feet, but God help you if you tried to hold onto her shirt as she leaned forward to touch the water. Some time around 3:00 P.M., as Hope, Brooke, and I were playing with Hannah, she fell into the pool. More precisely, she walked toward the pool, bent forward to look down, and tumbled into the deep end head first. A moment later, I was in the pool, standing on the ledge that ran around the perimeter inside. Nana was on the deck, spluttering, soaked, and cold. Her diaper wasn’t wet at all on the inside, and I don’t think she even coughed. She sat on the deck, realized she was in my arms, and screamed. It was a “Fuck you!” scream. It meant, “I hate you! You did this to me! It’s all your fault!”

After Hope picked her up and stripped her wet clothes off her, I realized I was still in the pool. I was in my jeans, t-shirt, belt, undies—the works. The ends of my hair were a little wet, and I was soaked up to, but not including, the very top of my right shoulder. I also realized that I still have it in me to be a lifeguard. All of those years of training and employment actually mean something. I didn’t wait to take off my belt. I didn’t sit on the edge of the pool and try to reach her with my arms. She went in. I went in. I didn’t think about it at all.

Thinking about it now makes me a little shaky, and I’m not sure if it’s terror or some kind of adrenaline rush that surges through me. Hope and Brooke both reported being mid-thought of, “Gosh, the baby’s kind of close to--” when Nana fell in. They also reported finishing that thought around the time that I plopped the wet baby on the concrete deck.

Nana wouldn’t let me hold her for the rest of the day (“Aunt Emilin just saved your life!” her mother admonished), but she didn’t appear to be unnerved by the pool at all.


At 1:49 PM, Blogger jon said...

I was looking at your posts about cancer stomach and found a good article about the same cancer stomach info too...

God luck with it : )


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