I made up my mind a couple of years ago to take each of my kids on their own weekend trip with mom before they moved out. I knew with a grand-baby on the way, this was the last opportunity for a sunshine vacation without a stroller in tow so I asked Alana where she’d like to go. We spent a nice, long weekend walking the beaches of Jekyll Island. We both love nature so this was a perfect trip for us to take. We spent our days visiting the turtle hospital, bird watching, and trying our best to save the hundreds of sand dollars that washed ashore. We had an amazing time…. except for that one brief moment of terror….
We were on day 3 of our trip and had decided to spend the day on Driftwood Beach. It is an absolute gorgeous place with so many fallen trees that provide excellent photo backdrops. So, we grabbed our phones to take pics and headed down the beach. I knew from research before the trip that the tide rises quickly and it is easy to get yourself so far down that it is impossible to get back. I kept this information in the back of my mind. We walked and walked in awe of the gorgeous driftwood. After taking several pictures and accessing the tide, we dropped our shoes and continued on our way. At some point during our journey, we found a wallet washed ashore and was distracted by our Good Samaritan ways as we plundered through the wet-sand-filled leather looking for identification. After some time with no avail, we gave up and decided to move on. This is when we realized that we had overstayed our welcome. The tide had risen far enough that we were almost trapped between ocean, trees, and the tall sand dunes. We knew we had little time to make it back.
We picked up pace and headed back towards the entrance to the beach. About half way down, we came to the spot where I had left my shoes…. the only pair of shoes I had with me. They weren’t there. The water had covered the tree that I had place them under and the waves had carried them away. No problem, right? I could buy new shoes! We needed to keep moving.
Now, I know I promised terror and losing a pair of flip-flops is hardly terror…. true. The terror came with the question Alana asked next.
“Where are the car keys?”
I stopped, looking over at her as her eyes displayed more faith in me than I deserved.
“I laid them on my shoes.”
Alana turned towards the ocean as calm as could be and I watched her lips form the word, “uh-oh.”
I could not hear this word though. All I heard was a loud buzzing in my ears and the crashing of the waves which sounded like laughter from the ocean gods.
I turned toward the direction of the car, away from the direction of the keys, mind you, and I ran… and ran…. and ran….
I was in full fledged panic mode- hyperventilating, running down the deserted beach, crying. I ran for what seemed like forever, away from my pregnant daughter, who had started sweeping her feet along the ocean floor, watching with confusion as I disappeared out of site running full-speed.
Lack of oxygen stopped me in my tracks as I bent over, dry heaving, trying to catch a breath, and considering the fact that we only had one set of keys somewhere in the ocean, no money as it was locked away in the car, and two cell phones that didn’t work on the island. And I knew that I only had seconds before I passed out from no air.
I stood up and looked out at the ocean that had caused my demise. Less than 50 yards out I saw dolphins. Not one or two- more like ten or twelve. They were jumping and diving together, playing like children. I watched as they did back-flips and crashed playfully into one another. They went on for the next couple of minutes and I stood and watched- absolutely mesmerized. As I snapped back into reality, I realized that God gave me those dolphins that day. Why, you might ask? The most pertinent reason was to distract me from my own crazy long enough to get me breathing. However, I think God needed me to understand just how much control He has over His creation. I began walking back to Alana- praying…
God, you are in charge of the ocean. You are in charge of the sand. You are in charge of the waves. And God, you know where my keys are. And He did know- He knew that they were in Alana’s hands, right where He put them only moments after I bailed on her and ran half way to my own death.
Funny how things work out…. I am the momma- I am supposed to be the calm, rational, responsible one. But now- she’s a momma too.