Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Holding On for Dear Life

with my West Neck Pod family (I am behind the camera)
hanging a wreath and saying a prayer. . .
Last night, I attended a boating safety meeting at Town Hall in Huntington. My motives were mostly selfish -- as swimmers, we are often terrorized by the speedboats and jetskis that come zooming toward us inside the speed marker lines, hulls raised, completely oblivious.

The meeting itself had a different purpose. It had been called to try to "do something" in the wake of the tragedy that had occured on July 4th in our harbor, a tragedy that took the lives of  three little children, Victoria Gaines, Harlie Treanor and David Aureliano.

What I hadn't expected so soon after the tragedy, was to see a mother of one of the children, Lisa Gaines, sitting there two feet from me, clutching a framed 8X10 photograph of her daughter.

Throughout the meeting, I studied her pained, exhausted face, feeling her grief, and wondering how she had gotten herself up and dressed to attend, let alone walked, talked and breathed in the four intervening weeks since she lost one of her children. As a mother, I knew at least part of the answer was that she still had a child at home.

At any rate, after the meeting, I had a moment to speak to her. Everyone was talking to her about boating safety and new laws, all of which is why she was there. But I wanted to tell her something else.

I wanted to tell her how peaceful the water is, how blissful, and comforting on a July morning, to assure her that, as terrifying as it can be, she could hold on to another truth now: that it is also gentle and lulling and calm.

The waters of the harbor on a July morning

And I promised her that we think of those children every single time we swim and offer comfort, and hold them in our hearts.

This morning, when my alarm rang early at 5:30, I truly intended to swim. But one of my children had crawled into bed beside me, warm breath, golden hair.

Suffice it to say, I turned off my alarm, wrapped my arms tightly around him, and went back to bed.

It's okay. I know Lisa would have understood.

- gae

p.s. here is the beautiful blog post my friend, and Fairy Pod Mother of the West Neck Pod, Carol Moore wrote for The Water-Blog recapping our memorial service.

July view, looking up during a swim.

- gae


  1. Awwww. I wish my kids were more cuddly. I can't imagine anything harder than losing a child. Nothing. And it was very brave of this mom, but i think I get it... making the death mean something... making it safer so other parents don't go through your pain.

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  3. Good girl for offering her some peace, instead of "condolences". It's what I do, myself. And, I can tell by the looks in their eyes, and sudden happy tears, that it makes those left behind feel a little better.

  4. Yes, Hart, of course that's what she wants to try to do. It's been a heartbreaking case -- a lot of finger pointing at the parents because the boat was too crowded. But it was the 4th of July . . . a big party among friends. I love boats, but I'm not a boater. I'm not sure I would know that there is a recommended limit to how many people can or should be aboard. There are no strict laws which is what they are hoping for. I dont think that was really the only cause -- more the storm that kicked up and the veritable sea of boats RUSHING away, larger ones kicking up wakes, etc. Can you imagine suffering as she has, and people calling you names and point the finger. It just crushes me. The whole damned thing.