How much could you accomplish in 5 seconds? Probably not much. You wouldn't even notice these few seconds tick away. But when life is on the line, 5 seconds could spell a big difference. It can save a life.
Last Saturday we were at a party for this pretty, sweet and charming girl whom i am so fond of. Let's call her Ana (not her real name). It was Ana's 3rd birthday and her younger sister's 1st. We held it in a neat club house with a party room and an adult pool. Only the usual family friends were invited so the celebration was intimate and leisurely. It was supposed to be the happiest day of Ana's life. It was. She blew the candles on her cake and played with the other kids by the poolside.
Although we didn't really plan to use the pool, the kids couldn't resist playing with the water. They sat by the edge with their legs hanging and making big fun water splashes. I, along with the other parents, kept an eye on them. We were even joking that if that "dreaded thing" happens, we would be forced to jump even if i myself don't know how to swim in 8 1/2 feet deep.
Racrac wanted to touch the water too. Oh he loves water! I sat beside him above 6-feet water while he wiggled his tiny feet and tickled the water with a twig he got from the older kids.
Around 3:45pm, the party was over and the kids were all wet from their water-splashing game. Ana's parents and the other adults (including my husband Fil) were doing the cleanup. Ana and her older sister went inside to change but the boys just couldn't get enough of the pool. 2 boys went playing at the pool steps. Realizing it would be safer at the steps, we migrated. I rolled up my pants and dipped my legs in the water while i sat close to Racrac who was standing on the first step to my right. We watched the oldest boy (age 7) descend the steps to our right and swim in the water while the other boy (age 3) was cheering him on, a couple of steps below Racrac. Their parents were there watching them so i wasn't worried. My attention was on Racrac whom i was holding tight to make sure he doesn't slip or pull away. Sometimes he would bend to touch the water with his hands and i'd be bending too while i hug his waist.
Ana and her older sister showed up in their fresh dry clothes, obviously dressed to go home. A few minutes later I heard splashes so i looked up to my right and saw Ana standing at the stairs knee-deep in the water. Her older sister was below her and her older sister already at the stairs. They had their backs at me, and I "scolded" them 'coz they again got their clothes wet. The parents behind me said the same thing and told them to get out of the water. I wasn't aware anymore what they did after that 'coz Racrac was being demanding of me - he would look up to me while saying his usual "woooohhh! da-da-da...ding!...ha?" with raised eyebrows waiting for me to say something back.
I don't know how long i stayed in that position. I must have sat there oblivious of the people around me while i held my baby. I must have heard the kids laughing, the water splashing and the parents cheering them on behind me but i wasn't paying attention. I was talking to racrac and showing him how to make water waves.
Then i got a strange sensation on my left which made me look. Could it be the wind touching my left cheek? could it be to pull back a hair that slipped over my left shoulder? could it be that i heard a faint splash? or could it be just coincidence that i did?...i couldn't remember.
When i turned, about 7 or 8 feet to my left blindspot, i noticed something orangy dancing beneath the water. And to my total and utter shock, i saw two tiny hands and a face struggling to get above the water. It was Ana and she's drowning!
I turned to my right and frantically waved my left hand (my right hand was holding Racrac) to get the attention of the two men behind me. I could still remember seeing their happy faces transform into wide-eyed fear when i shouted in a panicky voice: "si Ana!!! Ana!!!!"
In a flash, both of them jumped into the water and made big loud splashes which alarmed the people inside the party room. Then i saw one of them carry Ana out of the water and hand her over to her father. I couldn't visualize where everybody was while it happened but i do remember feeling relieved to see that Ana was conscious. My heart was jumping out of me the whole time!
Thankfully, thankfully, Ana was ok. There was no need for a CPR which her mom, a doctor/nurse, was prepared to do. Ana clung tightly to her parents, evidently in a state of shock. But we were relieved she's ok. Thank God!
5 seconds. Approximately the length of time it took from the moment i realized she was drowning to the time she was pulled out of the water. How long she's been there before i saw her? Only God knows. What we know is that the outcome would have been different if it took a second longer 'coz one of the men said Ana was already on her way down the pool floor (hands no longer struggling) when he got her.
We tried to recall what happened but nobody saw how Ana got there at 4-feet deep on the left side of the pool. Why we didn't see her? Maybe because my attention was on Racrac while the others were looking at the right side of the pool where the 2 boys and Ana's older sister were playing. We could only theorize that she must have slipped from the stairs quietly. When i saw her, she was already struggling...thank God i was able to act quick! I am also thankful that the two men were close by. If it was only me, it would have taken me longer to stand and carry 14-month old Racrac away from the pool then jump into the water to save her. Who knows i could have either sat there in shock and done nothing or i may have instinctively jumped to save Ana and let go of my baby and put his life in danger.
It took me a while that afternoon to go back to my normal heart rate but even after i did, i couldn't stop thinking about it. I may not have undergone the same degree of fear, anxiety, panic, dread, terror and trepidation as Ana's parents would have felt but i was scared too and the vision of her in the water will be forever burned in my memory. Things happen and they affect you. For me it was a wake-up call, a reminder that life can go wrong in a matter of seconds. Especially with kids, you'll never really know when things will turn into an accident. Being a parent can be scary.
But hey, this is a happy blog and despite the unfortunate incident, it was a day to be happy and thankful for. Nobody imagined it could happen but it did and we're thankful to God for tapping us so that Ana could survive and live and continue to bring cheer and sweetness to our world for many more years to come.