A Cautionary Tale

Last Thursday, I had one of the scariest days of my life. Maybe even the scariest. Our vacation to Myrtle Beach was wonderful…minus this particular afternoon.

We had spent the morning at the beach, frolicking in the waves. It was a calm day. The boys dove in the waves, Olivia splashed at the shore. We took a break to build sand castles and bury Matthew in the sand. Pretty soon everyone was hot again and we headed back to the ocean. We found a new safer spot for Olivia to swim where the sand dipped in between two sandbars and it made a small pool of ocean water. It was perfect.

Matt was with the boys diving into waves. The water was only up to Gabe’s thighs and Matthew’s hip bones. The waves weren’t big or particularly nasty that day. Not at all. Matt left the boys to come over and see Olivia and I for a minute. We were about 3 feet away from the boys. Matt and Olivia were watching the little fish swim around her toes and I was taking pictures. I took about 10 pictures which lasted about 1 minute. I looked up and the boys were way out far. I could tell they couldn’t touch and were struggling.

MATT!!! The boys are out too far!

Off he went like a flash and was able to get to them quickly. I could see that Matt was with the boys but that’s all. But then Matt couldn’t get back. I was standing on the beach, helpless because I couldn’t leave Olivia, and I couldn’t find a lifeguard and I didn’t know what to do. I just stood there with my heart in my throat because I knew something was wrong. I watched a woman, who was only 2 feet away from Matt and the boys but was able to touch even though they couldn’t, walk over and grab Matt’s arm and pull him forward. Finally he and the boys could touch. They quickly made their way back to shore.

Matthew was sobbing hysterically saying he thought he was going to die and grabbed onto me like he’d never let go. Gabe was speechless and fighting back tears. Matt was breathing heavily and needed to sit down. Gabe said a big wave came and took them out and then they couldn’t touch and they couldn’t get back. Matt said once he got to the boys, he couldn’t get back either. It was a really bad riptide. Matt said it was his worst nightmare. They almost drowned.

Everyone calmed down and we headed upstairs. Once we got in our room, Gabe and I hugged for 10 minutes, holding onto dear life while we both cried. Matt was fighting back tears for the rest of the day. I felt like I was going to throw up. Matthew was exhausted. I couldn’t stop playing scenarios over and over in my head of what might have happened. It’s normal to do that, I’m sure. When Matthew stopped breathing when he was 6 months old, I did that too. It takes time to get past it, to stop thinking about the what ifs over and over again. Matt is still traumatized. The boys seem to be ok, thank God. When I think about it, I feel sick.

On the bright side, I think the boys will forever be very careful around water and especially the ocean. We’ve all been hugging each other a little tighter, kissing and hugging a little more often, not taking each other for granted. Every day I thank my lucky stars that everything turned out ok, that the boys were safe and that I was able to hug them and kiss them and tell them I love them. It was a scary reminder of how you just never know what lies ahead and that you should appreciate this moment right now because that’s all you have.

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22 responses to “A Cautionary Tale

  1. Oh, Tiffany. My heart sunk when I read this. So relieved that your entire family is safe. xoxo

  2. Riptides are my worst nightmare, and we live on the beach (literally 10 yards from front door to water). I am so relieved you are all safe, and yes it will take a while for the what ifs to stop running through your head. Poor Matt, his trauma is probably a lot to do with having been so close and yet still helpless. Hope he is calmer soon. xx

    • Tiffany Townsend

      Yes, I’m sure that’s exactly what he’s feeling. So scary!!! Have a great day!!Tiffanywww.elastamom.com

  3. wow- so scary! glad that everyone is ok. i know exactly what you mean by not being able to turn off the what-ifs. thank god for the woman who was there to help!!!

  4. Peace, dear friend, peace. I lived many years “in” the water and it always demanded respect….I took my lifeguard responsibility very seriously.

  5. How scary! I read something recently that said those little dips are a sign of riptides because two different currents come together to make the dip. I’m so glad everyone is ok!!

  6. My husband teases me constantly because when the girls are in the ocean, I’m a paranoid freak. THIS is why I’m a paranoid freak. I am so glad everyone is okay. This one’s going to stay with you a while, I’m afraid.

  7. I think I held my breath the whole time I was reading this post. Thank goodness you are all ok. I can’t imagine how frightening that was for you all. Please Look out for Post Traumatic Stress symptoms, not just in your children but in your husband and yourself.
    I am so, so grateful th read you are all ok.
    Warmest regards,
    Heather

  8. That is absolutely terrifying – I am so glad everything turned out OK. I’m sure this will change you guys forever. It’s so scary how fast you can go from “everything is fine and I’m 5 yards out” to “disaster” in the ocean – I am very intimidated by the ocean myself.

    I hope you guys had a good vacation otherwise. You are all so lucky to have each others love and support after this nightmare – something like this will definitely make you hold your loved ones tighter!

  9. So glad to hear you are all ok!! Sending a huge hug and lots of loving thoughts your way!!

    • Tiffany Townsend

      Thanks, Stefanie! I haven’t stopped saying thank you!!!   Have a great day!!Tiffanywww.elastamom.com

  10. oh wow…that is scary. so glad the boys were okay! they are lucky to have parents who were right there and watching. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve watched parents on our local beaches ignore their kids (I’ve even seen them take naps while their SMALL children were playing in the water) at the beach. it’s a beautiful place, but it can turn scary in a heartbeat.

    • Tiffany Townsend

      I know…we saw plenty of parents not paying attention!!! Enjoy your trip! Have a great day!!Tiffanywww.elastamom.com

  11. How scary! I am so glad everyone is ok. My heart was pounding as I read this.

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