I was sitting in a lounge chair as close to the water as the surf would allow. The wind had kicked up, and the water was choppy; the waves got higher and rougher. No one was in the water, so when a woman holding a baby walked close to the surf, I kept my eye on her. She stepped into the water. A wave lapped at her ankles. She took a few more steps. Behind her, another woman kept calling to her. She didn't want her to go in, but the woman holding the baby moved deeper. She bent over and dipped the baby in. Another step and she was waist high. She turned her back to the waves.
The woman holding the baby was in a precarious position. An unexpected wave came over her back, but the baby was protected by her big ball of hair.
I looked around. It appeared it was just the woman in the water and her friend calling from the shore. I went on red alert. The woman with the baby was in danger.
She realized it too and started moving slowly out of the water. The first wave hit and she stammered but held her ground; but the second wave came before she was steady, and down she went. As the wave held her under, her arms shot upward to keep the baby from immersion.
I ran for the water; I had to save that baby. If the surf had pulled her out of her mother's arms, if she had gotten one gulp and her lungs had filled with salt water...
The father beat me there. He lifted the baby to safety and helped the mother to her feet.
Thankfully, I wasn't needed. I turned and walked back to my lounge chair, now aware of the entire beach watching the drama unfold.
I was shaking. My adrenaline was fast-pumping.
I begrudged the woman who'd put her baby in danger.
I watched her around the table with her family and friends. Color drained from her face, she too was probably shaking. The baby was fine, but it might take the mother awhile.
When Tony came back from lunch, I couldn't talk about it. It wasn't until evening when I recounted the incident.
I understand stupid mistakes--I've made my share, but I still wonder how she could have miscalculated with a babe in arms.
She miscalculated her vulnerability. If this was the case, then I am a hypocrite for my criticism of the mom, because life is a series of vulnerability calculations. For the most part, we calculate right, and we are safe; but there are those human moments when we don't, and I too have been saved by providence, by someone standing by who saw the danger when I didn't.