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Friday, April 30, 2010

When Time Stood Still

A few weeks ago I made a brief mention of my boys "shaving a few years off my life" with their antics. The incident I was referring to was still too painfully fresh to sit down and share at that point. It was one of the few instances in my life that have caused me to be truly heart-stopping, blood-running-cold, can't-breathe scared out of my mind.

And I have these two partners in crime to thank for it! (Please note that I now use their high chair restraints for more than just mealtimes - much to Alec's chagrin in this photo:)

It was the end of a long, tiring day and I found myself at home with only the boys: Owen, Ian and Alec. The three of them were watching a bit of television in the family room, so I seized the opportunity to sneak into the kitchen for a quick snack away from prying eyes and little grasping fingers. All too soon the baby boys realized Mommy was gone and went in search of me. I heard them on the stairs but thought little of it since numerous times before they have climbed safely to their bedroom on the second floor and quickly returned.

It never crossed my mind that they would go to our third-floor bedroom instead.

For the first two months they were in the house, Ian and Alec did not even know a third floor existed. In our house, that floor consists of one bathroom and one bedroom and there was never any reason for them to be up there. But, just prior to this incident we had welcomed my sister's family for a visit and given them use of the third floor. Our boys had followed their cousins on a few occasions and had encountered the "mystery" of this new and exciting room. Their cousins had since left, but the memory of the room must have remained.

It was when I heard the boys' voices, sounding animated but very far away, and almost as though they were coming from outside, that my world came spinning to a halt and time seemed to stand still. In a rush of thought but as if in slow motion a series of images flashed through my mind: the boys' excited faces when they first discovered the third-floor bedroom; Ian's curiosity over the low, unbarred window by the closet; the cream-colored ottoman that had recently been left below the window; and the recollection that I had once had a fleeting thought that I ought to move the ottoman to a safer spot, just in case.

I knew in an instant of searing certainty that my boys were now on that ottoman and at that open window, three floors above a fragile thatched roof and the hard cement of the carport below.

As I flew up the stairs frantically praying that I would reach them in time, I fearfully wondered if my wild-eyed fanaticism might startle them right out the window. Because indeed, as I reached the top step I saw that both boys were standing on the ottoman, leaning out the window, and waving and chattering to several skateboarding neighbor boys below.

I ran with my arms outstretched and swooped upon them, dragging them away and down to the floor where I crumpled upon my knees sobbing and literally crying out to God over and over again. In the frayed edges of my consciousness I felt a crazed sense of hilarity because the thought flashed through my brain that I must look and sound exactly like some woman in an end-of-the-world movie right then.

The poor little boys were frightened by their distraught and weeping momma and kept petting me and saying over and over, "Sawry ... sawry ... sawry." I felt sorry to have scared them but at the same time realized perhaps my very desperateness would instill in them the fear of ever doing this again.

Somehow I managed to get us all back downstairs in one piece and I think Pedro must have come home soon after because I remember locking myself into the bathroom to start the boys' bath and just shaking with tears that I could not stop. In the emotional overload of the moment memories crowded my head of a long-ago incident when Isabel as a toddler fell off a high bed and stopped breathing. The what ifs of past and present collided and shook me to the core and I shuddered and sobbed for a very long time, finally emerging exhausted and with enormously puffy eyes to face my family once again.

I am so very very thankful that God was gracious and kind to protect our family. I am so very very thankful that He has done so time and again, even when were not aware of how close we had come to danger. And I am so very very thankful of the reminder of how precious and perilous life is, and how important it is to treasure and guard each moment!


Carin, priceless child of God said...

How frightening... glad to hear all is good... God is so good and His mercies are new everyday.
Love & blessings, Carin

Lois said...

That is so scary Stephanie! I'm so glad you got to them and everyone was safe.

Anonymous said...

oh how scary but you are right God is so good to protect us often when we dont even know it!

SQ said...

praise God that the Lord protected the children. My antics have not been about safety. They have been about my kids doing naughty things that drive me crazy! ha..ha.. sometimes I'm not laughing however, more like pulling out my hair!

Melanie said...

I am so glad that everything is ok and that God showed you! That is just the scariest feeling. I have had some near misses with my kids before. I know the feeling. Thank God that He watches out for us.


Kathy's Korner said...

oh! that was such a heart stopping moment!! It is heart wrenching to imagine the possibilities!! So glad the boys are safe and your heart has settled. Knowing that our kids are "his" helps, but getting to keep them physically with us is, well, a blessing we all want to keep as long as possible. Thank you Lord for granting that prayer, unspoken or not, with a resounding YES!

Salzwedel Family said...

Praise God for His protection! I am so thankful your boys are OK. I can imagine how upsetting that was.

Sally said...

I have the shivers from head to toe! You took me right back to when my 2 yr old did the same thing two years ago. Horrible. And hard to get rid of those feelings of fright and the 'what ifs'. Certainly made me pray more for my children. And for me! xxxx