So, as some of you might remember, The Girl's birthday was this week and, as per usual, I was taking this one pretty hard.... As The Boy has gotten older I've always tempered my sadness with the knowledge that The Girl was "still a baby"/still in her "toddler years".... well, turning FIVE punches a big ole' hole in that one.
My sweet, sweet baby girl who I begged and pleaded and bargained with God that I would stay pregnant and get to keep her... when we hadn't kept the others.... her big moon shaped face with toothy smile, her silly faces and her hair that JUST. WON'T. GROW... dammit. lolol. She's everything I dreamed and more and being my 'last baby', this turning five stuff was wearing me down a little.
As always, we set out the day before her birthday to make a memory of the "last day" she would be four, and seeing as how the kids and Hail Mary love the beach so much, it seemed like the obvious choice. For *once* we actually got out the door on time: beach bag with fresh towels, swim suits and clothes to change into, flip flops and camera... oh, because it's freaking OREGON: clouds and rain. check and check.
This is nothing unusual for my kids - we've been to the beach *plenty* of times in the rain and they could careless. They run and play in the sand and rain and so... off we went.
And that's when my wee Girls' 'last day' really almost became her last......
no. fucking. shit.
We drove the hour and a half to the beach, parked the car and the kids were leaping around ready to get to the sand and water. We decided to take the dog for her first trip to the beach as well... big mistake.
more on that later.....
So we walked about towards the beach, lots of people were there, but mostly in jackets and jeans - only *my kids* think 50 degree's and raining in *perfect* swimsuit weather... lol. I don't mind because they usually have about a 15 minute timeframe and then they are cold and done - which is fine by me... memory made - we'll get changed and go for lunch. :)
This day... however is different.
I put the bag down on the sand about 50-60 yards from the waters edge, we take off our shoes and Hail Mary runs off with the kids and the dog, which is usually what we do. I make them stop where the water is glassy and I take my usual 'reflection' picture - I've done it every time we've gone out there... and then the kids run to the waters edge with Hail Mary and Diesel Charlie in tow.
Notice how calm the water is.....? just a few inches above the toes - deep enough to splash in and not much more.... *this* is what we are used, to.... instead this happened:
Anyone who knows me *knows* that I take a dozen pictures a minute... I never want to miss anything!!!! lol... so I had taken several pictures of the kids doing the 'reflection' picture, and the one up above is the last one in the serious. They all ran out ahead of me.... I'm still dressed in my jeans and shoes - I had NO INTENTION of getting wet at all....
Note... I said *had*.
So, the first picture is at 11:33am, and the water is pretty far out there - the kids aren't even walking through waves that point - it's not even ankle deep... but by 11:34 am, what locals call a 'sneaker wave' which is fairly well document here, and here and here, had come in fast and furious.
I still can't get over the time... click, click, click.... It happens that fast.
In mere *seconds* the water goes from barley toes deep to waist high and then - in between pictures, it's up to Hail Mary's chest..... you can see The Boy running back out in fear screaming about The Girl, I'm standing there suddenly waist deep - even though I'm several yards back - and screaming as loudly as I can for Hail Mary to grab The Girl. The Girl has has gone under.
The Girl has gone *under*.
For Hail Mary this all happens just as fast and the *weight* of the wave is unlike any other you might have at the beach because these 'sneaker waves' are HEAVY with more sand than usual - and a strong undertow which is dragging the dog, now soaked, which is looped around Hail Mary's arm. I watch, totally helpless as The Girl goes under and comes up, I can see that she's trying to get up - balanced on all fours, knee's and feet on the ground and the wave is just rolling her over and over and over....
Usually the waves roll in, failry slow then drain out... then come back.
But not this wave - *this* wave is the mothertrucking *asshole* of all waves and this bastard just keeps hitting us and hitting us and hitting us..... higher and harder and faster... the current at our feet is incredibly.... and all the while - The Girl is just rolling and rolling.
All I can see if her wee face, pale with fear and her blue eyes wide with fear.
I don't think I will ever 'un-see' that face as long as I live.....
I turn back to see The Boy struggling to get to the sand - but the wave is getting long and longer and actually reaches the bag and the shoes - though a nice family was already running to our stuff watching what was happening and the Dad grabs our bag just in the nick of time.....
I'm screaming at Hail Mary - "[The Girl] is down, you have to grab her", and I'm running at them.
All Hail Mary can hear over the crash of the waves if "do...." - so she thinks I'm saying "dog" - then a split second later she realizes that The Girl is under the water and so with her free arm she's frantically looking in the water for her - and then drags The Girl up to her chest.
The Girl is hysterical - and clinging to Hail Mary - who is now carrying out my 62 pound baby girl and a 15 pound dog - and pushing back against this monster wave that is finally starting to roll out - but still threatening to take the three of them with it.....
When they get to shore water is pouring out of the girls nose.
Sand is *everywhere*.
The dog is fine but shaking and clearly scared.
Hail Mary is soaked to the bone and weighted down with sand.
And The Girl......
The Girl is sobbing. Sand is coming out of her ears and nose and everywhere else. She's coughing up water and she's clinging to me... or may be I'm clinging to her - I really couldn't tell you who was holding on tighter at that moment.
But naturally... I took a picture.
Which I'm sure seems odd to people... but this moment - this second in time was... *almost* life changing.... and I wanted to remember it. I didn't want to forget the fear on her face and the pain in her eyes..... I don't want the years to ebb away at the memory in my mind.
I wanted to remember this day... this time - so that I can treasure the gratitude it brings about.
She's too upset to walk so we wrap her in a towel and Hail Mary carries her the 60 or so yards back to the bathroom area... but we find the public showers are turned off.
Guess you're not supposed to be "in the water" this time of year... huh?
So I have to take The Girl into the bathroom and rinse her off one very cold handful of bathroom sink water at a time.... she's miserable and scared and still crying.
Not the day at the beach we were planning.....
I called the nurse hotline on the medical card, but they said since she didn't lose consciousness and hadn't turned blue that we didn't need to go in to the ER - but that we should keep her drinking water all day. Hail Mary say's that's because the salt water in your body needs to be flushed out.....
I managed to get everyone washed off and The Girl refused to put her jeans on - her legs were covered in scrapes and cuts and skinny jeans were just a line too far for this girl.... so we dressed her in The Boy's sweatshirt and wrapped a towel around her and went back to the shop where sweats are $12.99 or less and got her new sweatpants and a sweatshirt - soft and fuzzy.... then she was a bit happier.
We ended up going on the tilt-a-whirl and out for lunch at The Pig N Blanket - all while The Girl continued to cough and belch (which she would later find hilarious as the day went on) - and then we went for ice-cream. Trying to kill time to make sure The Girl *was* actually ok before we were 30 miles away from any help and in the mountains.....
By some HUGE miracle... The Girl was fine. She say's she *never* ever wants to go to the beach ever again... but she's otherwise fine. lol
Hail May and I were a wreck... I was throwing up at the Pig and Blanket - Hail Mary wasn't feeling well later on that evening... the emotional stress of the day was just too much. On top of that I'm feeling like the *shittiest* Mom on the planet because I took my kids to the beach.... but the thing is it's almost *always* rainy at an Oregon beach and just the week before my facebook was littered with pictures of people taking their kids to the coast and letting them play at the waters edge and in the sand.
An Oregon beach in the rain is nothing new.
I was *grateful* when local friends were telling us about the 'sneaker wave', which honestly I thought was just BS and they were trying to make us feeling better... but then those people nearly had their *Car* washed out to see and a quick google search revealed that what we had encountered was a 'sneaker wave'..... and going forward, any trip to the beach will NOT involve the kids even being a *inches* from me ever again.
And then.... I thought about all the time I had let them run out in the edge of the water so I could take a picture of them playing.... and how, were I not there with Hail Mary - that I'm not at all sure that the day would have had the outcome it had.... I really don't think I would have gotten to her time.
I really don't.
The water was so dark with sand - you couldn't see... it was so strong.
It's kind of funny that I named her 'Hail Mary'.... because I wasn't *really* intending the meaning this way - but it sure as shit seems like she's saving us all the time....
and thank fuck for that.
So, thankfully *that* day was The Girls' 'last day' being four.... and I felt *very* happy when she woke up and turned five the next day..... what a blessing.