We continued up the beach a good ways, when I realized how late it was. The sun was setting so rather than follow the shore line, we cut across the beach in front of the empty life guard stands, the closed coast guard office, and I never even looked out to sea.
After dinner, the little ones wanted to swim in the pool. As we were coming down the stairs to the pool area, I noticed a plane flying dangerously low over the sea. I knew there was an airport nearby…but this was low. He circled around and then began panning the sea with a huge light. It was then that I noticed the blue and red lights flashing on the beach down by the lifeguard stands. Soon there were boats all along the shore. I watched them for over an hour. After I took the kids back to the condo, I went back and stood on the balcony overlooking the pool and the beach. I heard a woman scream. After that, the plane left the area, then the boats, and finally the lights on the beach moved toward the coast guard office.
A small group of people walked off the beach and up to the landing where I stood. They told me a young woman had drowned. The lights....they were searching for her body in the sea. The scream....her friend who had tried to keep her afloat but failed. These two life long friends were wading in the ocean while the tide was out. When they realized how late it was and that the tide was rolling in, they headed back to shore. One of them couldn't swim. She stepped into a hole, sunk in the water over her head and the current carried her out into the deeper water. Her friend followed, pulled her head out of water and swam with them both for as long as she could. No one saw them struggling...or heard their pleas for help.
My stomach rolled and a deep regret settled in my bones ... I had walked right past them, twice. If I had but known... I could have done something. Swam out with a float.... a surf board...something. But I was too busy, hurrying back home and I never saw her struggle to live.
I wonder how many other people I walk past during the day who are drowning.... and I don't see them because I'm so busy. Maybe they are not in water, but drowning in a sea of worries, confusion and doubt....struggling to keep their head above water.... I could throw them an act of kindness, a word of encouragement... something.
Do you reach out to others when you know they are drowning in their problems and fears or do you mind your own business?
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are dong.”