Monday, August 6, 2012

Church picnic: Trauma SERIOUSLY revisited

As you may have seen from yesterday morning's post, it was my church's annual picnic, and I wasn't really all that excited about going.

I went anyway, but as it turns out, I probably should have stayed home.

Not that long after I got there, as lunch was winding down, I was standing in the playground area, keeping an eye on Rowan. At some point, I noticed that nearly everyone on the beach at the side of the lake was standing up, looking towards the water. Initially, I didn't think much of it, assuming someone was racing kayaks or something else that people found interesting, until a second glance told me that no such activity was going on.

It was about then that a flood of emergency vehicles started showing up.

It didn't take a genius to put 2 and 2 together. People were staring at the water, and emergency crews had just arrived - someone was drowning or had drowned.

I felt a pit in my stomach.

As the minutes added up, I learned bits and pieces... a teenage boy... they couldn't find him, though they were pretty certain he was in the water, and had been for some time... was there with his sister...

Photo from KOMO 4 News
As the crews worked to find him, which they eventually did, our church gathered to pray for him and his family. Up to this point I had been intentionally keeping from Rowan what was going on, and was successful. But as we joined the group, Rowan sensed the sadness and started to whimper with fear. I'm sure she heard a few words that triggered it: under water - drowning - death.

I felt the trigger too, and at this point started to lose my composure. I knew the best thing was for Rowan and I to get the heck out of the middle of the prayer group, and I took her back to the playground. As she jumped on the equipment, I sat down at the edge and just completely lost it.

I mean, completely.

I sobbed like a baby, like I hadn't done since the first week of Aimee's death. I kept trying to get it under control, but I couldn't. At some point, several minutes later, I felt a hand on my shoulder, and I tried again  (unsuccessfully) to gain my composure. It was no use. My hands were soaked, as was my face. And still it came, until finally, I was able to get a hold of myself and get myself under control again.

I looked up to find a gal from sitting next to me with her hand on my shoulder. She and her husband were two of the first friends Aimee and I had made at the church, and we'd continued our friendship over the last few years. I was glad she was there.

And although this didn't occur to me until later, I was also glad that Donna had not come with us.

I'm not sure exactly what triggered such a powerful reaction. Maybe it was simply the thought of the loss of another life due to drowning. Maybe it was the thought of what his family would go through. I don't know, but it was really strong, and shook me really badly.

According to this news report, published several hours after the incident, the teen was actually still breathing and in the hospital. However, it also said he was underwater for about 30 minutes. While I'll continue to pray for a miraculous recovery, I just don't see how he'll live after half an hour without oxygen. 


  1. Thoughts and prayers out to the family of the boy. My thoughts and prayers are with you and Rowan as well. My heart goes out to you all. I am so sorry you had to see that Pat.

  2. I'm sorry you had to see that, Pat. Examples of our temporary condition on this planet are all around us. And they are painful reminders. Hopefully you can find something good out of that emotional release.

  3. Your reaction seems completely understandable. And I'm really glad you had a friend near by.

    1. Understandable, yes. But also a bit embarrassing. I'm not comfortable with such overt displays of sadness, especially in public. But there wasn't anything I could do about it.

  4. Pat, love your willingness to share your struggles...... This would have effected anyone, even those who didn't have the history you have with losing Aimee.... Not surprised your protective Dad side kicked in to remove Rowan from the scene and glad your friend was there to feel and share your sorrow.... Tears aren't always bad and can be cleansing, and He counts each one and stores them...... Sending HUGE cyberhugs....

  5. Grief triggers are all around us and sometimes the best thing we can do is let the tears flow. Thinking about you and Rowan and praying for you in your journey. Thanks for sharing so candidly.

    1. Thanks Anne. Honestly, it's not easy to share like this sometimes (many times). But I have committed t being as honest as I can be through this blog. Given how many people have shared with me how this blog helps them, NOT being candid feels like I'm holding out.