I have a long article on drowning prevention in the works that I’ll be publishing very soon but I want to go ahead and share this with y’all. This is my friend, Nicole. She recently lost her precious three year old little boy to drowning. I want you to read her story and recognize something: drowning can happen to anyone. It happens to good, vigilant parents who watch their kids like hawks in the water. It happens to good parents who fence their pools appropriately. It happens to good parents who’s kids have had swimming lessons and KNOW HOW TO SWIM. The key is layers of protection and I’ll be talking more about that. But for now, read about Levi in his mother’s own beautiful words.
I hate the universe.
I am questioning every single part of faith and goodness and purpose. How can there be a plan where a cherished 3 year old is snatched from his family? How can a life end in an instant? Why would this baby be ripped from our family, leaving an emptiness that can never be filled? How can I ever love, again, when I now know that tragedy may always be lurking right around the corner?
I miss him. I miss his FUTURE: taking him to the first day of Pre3 this year, choosing a Halloween costume, learning to ride a bike.
I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning. I don’t want to do laundry or get milk for Reese. I don’t want to make a waffle for Lily. I don’t want to go to Target to buy paper towels. But, I do, because every second is a choice. There are moments I have to actually say out loud: “I am choosing to open the dishwasher right now.” Choosing to get up. Choosing to breathe. Choosing to live purposefully in the midst of tragedy.
If crying in bed all day would bring him back, my husband and I would stay in bed sobbing every second. If shutting myself off would bring him back, I would delete this FB page in an instant and go off the grid completely, forever. But, it won’t. Nothing will bring him back. Those words are so painful to type, because I just want him back. I want my life from BEFORE back.
In the hours after his death, when I was forced to stumble forward without my son, I started grasping for a reason. I knew in order to survive this tragedy, to at least physically still be alive for my girls, I would have to find a meaning for the WHY. I quickly realized that the reason wasn’t going to just be sitting around waiting on me to “find” it. I would have to create it. And, so I am.
I have a plan. It is a plan to prevent other parents from experiencing this lifetime of grief. I’ve been working on it for the last week and a half, in the mornings and at night, in stolen moments, in long stretches in the car. It is so close to being ready, and I will share it as soon as it is ready.
I want to go back in time 3 weeks- I just need 3 weeks!- and tell myself about the statistics on drowning: how often it occurs during non-designated swim times, how quickly a toddler can drown, how doors and gates and alarms aren’t fool-proof.
When I start to feel myself being pulled by despair, when I feel truly hopeless- inevitably, I get a message from someone- a family member, a close friend, an acquaintance, a stranger- telling me how Levi’s story has impacted others. These messages have pulled me back from the brink of despair, often coming at the exact moment when I need them the most. Of course, I just want him HERE, peeing on everything- not making an impact in his death. But, no amount of wishing is going to bring him back. So, I’m moving forward with my plan to hopefully save other families from this pain.
Everywhere I turn, someone- a family member, a close friend, an acquaintance, a stranger- is asking what they can do.
Here is my answer: Tell people, especially caretakers of young children- that drowning happens in seconds. Tell them that drowning happens when kids have access to water (pools, oceans, streams, ponds) EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT SWIMMING.
Tell them that there is no alternative to supervision when it comes to water safety. Tell them to designate a “Water Guardian.”
Tell them about Levi.
You can read more about Levi’s story and Nicole’s quest to prevent other parents from losing their children to drowning here (and I hope you will).