Thursday evening the kids were having the time of their lives at our timeshare in North Myrtle Beach. Kim was at home not feeling well, but also on puppy duty. About an hour after I took this photo, the kids had gotten more brave than ever. I was so happy to see them in control and enjoying God’s creation. I spent the better part of that hour calling them back toward shore, waving them down the beach and coaching from waist deep water. Then EVERYTHING changed.
I turned toward the beach for a split second. As I did, I heard a faint cry every parent knows, ”dad….help!”it took a second, but I realized they were caught in a rip. There were people about 100 yards up the beach in the water and others behind me on the sand, but no one was close enough for me to call for help. So I did what every parent would. I took off toward the kids. As I made it to Lia, she was separated from Mel by about 30 feet. I’ve never seen that level of fear and helplessness in my child’s eyes as she said she couldn’t get to him. I begged her to swim in for help as I pressed on toward Mel. As I got into the same rip, Mel was being pulled out at a much faster pace than I would ever have thought possible to overcome. By this point we were a good 300’ from shore and in about 5’ swells. I made it within 5 feet of Mel and begged him not to give up. We managed to make contact in about 10’ of water. As we turned toward shore I realized that no one could see, much less hear us. In those fleeting moments I challenged Mel to fight with all he had and not to dare give up. We made it out of the rip and maybe 50’ closer to shore. But by this point exhaustion was pretty overwhelming and I was afraid I was more of a risk to Mel than I was a help. We bobbed together for 30 seconds and I begged him to push off of me and swim toward the help Lia had now mustered.
When Mel pushed off of me, I went under. My feet eventually touched the bottom and I thought, “ this is exactly what happened with the family at Wrightsville Beach last fall. That dad did all he could to save his son, but was lost in the effort.”
When my feet touched the sand, I mustered the strength to surface and shouted more gurgled encouragement to Mel. He was making headway by this point. And, I was able to get the attention of the guys who were swimming toward Mel. I don’t recall much from that point on. All I could do was pray as I turned over to float on my back. By God’s Grace, a group of amazing people got us both to shore safely. I was so exhausted that the emt team felt I needed to be checked out. I was kept under observation until about noon on Friday. No real issues, but my bp was just elevated and my ox saturation was lower than desired. I’m blessed with asthma. So it was just aggravated.
Yesterday could have ended very differently. BUT GOD!
Thank you for the prayers, calls and encouragement. You ROCK.
Please encourage Lia. She’s the hero. Had she not stayed with Mel, I never would have known where to look for him.
Needless to say, Mel and I might stick to the pool in our yard for a while.
ps. If you try to reach me by phone, I guess the Lord decided I should take a break from it while on vacation. It’s somewhere in 10’ of water about a football field off the beach in North Myrtle. 😉.