*I started this post ready to write about the calm that comes from watching waves and feeling the crisp ocean breeze on my face. But thinking about it diverted my attention to a painful incident that happened a few years back. Letting you know the thought processes leading up to this post.*
The ocean is beautiful, mysterious, and refreshing to see. I love to hear the rhythmic sound of waves rolling onto the sandy beach. Then there is the tide pool: in small crevices between rocks live small sea creatures camouflaged or swimming around in their small habitats. It gets me bubbly excited, and these are times when Chris, my practical and vigilant spouse, tells me, “Don’t go too crazy.”
In 2016 we took a trip down to San Diego for our first family vacation since Ellis’ birth. My excitement level was beyond normal. I couldn’t wait for my kids to experience the joy of looking closely at tide pools and touching the ocean water.
This place was familiar to me since Chris and I briefly lived in San Diego as newlyweds. Pleasant past experiences made me overly confident and careless. I quickly discovered that safely walking around tide pools with small children is very challenging. The result: disastrous.
I overestimated my physical coordination and underestimated the danger.
Painful lesson learned that day: Never. Never. Never walk barefoot on mossy rock surfaces holding a small squirmy child. One misstep taken. I slipped and fell hitting my head on a rock. In that mind-numbing moment, I realized that dying can happen just like that. It was a bone chilling realization. People around me stared with dropped jaws as I rocked back and forth cradling my head between my arms. The goose egg that you see in cartoons was what I had.
Thankfully, Ellis did not get hurt from the fall: only the hem of her skirt got wet.
After Chris registered me in the emergency room, I asked him to go back to the hotel with the kids. It was hard to mask the pain and cry comfortably without getting asked every minute if I were okay. It’s a harmless question you ask people after an unpleasant event, but this was different. I was NOT okay. I wanted to be left alone.
Once they walked out of sight, an explosion of tears (mainly regret for my carelessness and fear of permanent head injury) let loose. It must have been a sight: wet clothes, crazy hair, bag of ice on my head, and a sobbing middle-aged lady crumpled up in a chair.
CT scan showed that the injury as a hematona: a fancy word for bruised. Thankfully, I was discharged with simple recommendations: take Tylenol for headaches, ice the goose egg as needed, and rest to recover. The latter was the hardest to do.
We came back from our vacation slightly traumatized and disillusioned. Although we made some good memories visiting family, the most vivid memory was the beach day fiasco. My kids reenacted the mommy falling scenario for weeks while they played, reminding me of what I wanted to forget.
For weeks I wondered what meaning I could take away from this experience. If deep insight or lesson were gained, I would’ve been less angry at myself. But I couldn’t derive any meaning from what happened. Self-forgiveness did not come easily or quickly.
Then the take-away lesson began to take shape. It was so straightforward and simple that I couldn’t believe it: I must physically slow down and take precautions to avoid future falls. Sounds like common sense but it made a big impact on me.
Another take-away lesson: have deeper reverence for nature in realizing how small and vulnerable I am to its greatness.
Deep inside I wondered if God was punishing me for missing church that morning. But God is not petty. If he operated like that, I would have been struck by thunder a million times already. He is God, the Almighty: not an emotionally volatile and revengeful being.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17
This incident made me think how things happen in life because of choices I made, effects of other people’s choices, events out of my control, or overwhelmed by the forces of nature. What a good reminder to slow down and be mindful of my actions and thoughts, in the holistic sense of mind, body, and soul.
Next time at the tide pools I’m wearing a helmet.