Jun 13, 2023 in Life Coaching

Survivor's Guilt

I have saved the lives of four people and some people wonder why they lived to tell...

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Survivor’s Guilt

I am not trying to brag, but I have saved the lives of four people. For one of them, I saved her life more than once, the other was my child, the other two people were folks who I didn’t know. I’ll start with the two I didn’t know…The first was a child at the swimming pool where I worked as a lifeguard. He was a toddler at the time. Lifeguards when they watch the pool, count the number of people over and over during their shift and we also watched the observation area. I glanced over at that area and saw a little boy running out past the roped area and right into the deep end of the pool.

I blew my whistle, jumped out of my chair onto the deck and ran to where I saw him go under. Little ones are buoyant, so I laid flat on the deck, grabbed his little arm and pulled him up and out of the water and onto the deck. He was fine, just shook up and tried to cough up the water he swallowed.

Person number two, (it might not be a true save), I was Christmas shopping with my mother one year and as we were on the escalator, there was a teen aged boy who turned to me and said, “My shoelace is stuck in the grate.”  I saw we were getting close to the top and when at the top the stairs flattened so it was easier to step off. I knew that wouldn’t be good for this kid, it could break his leg. So, I asked him if it was okay to touch him. He said “Yes”, and I told him to lean back into me. I know how to stand in situations like that to solidify my stance. I asked him if he could take his shoe off and he said “No”. I looked at the top of the escalator and we were getting closer and closer to the top. I looked at my mother who was frozen in place. I directed her to go up and hit the stop button (in America there are buttons that will stop the movement of the stairs.). She did that and once the power was off, it released his laces, and I asked if he could stand, and he said he could. He thanked me and went on his way.

Person three, my son. We were in a lovely pool at a resort in Mexico, I think he was two years old. We were in the children’s pool, and I was holding his hand. I was talking to my husband. I felt my little one slip and let go of my hand. I saw his little face under the water! I reached down and yanked him up into my arms and thanked the good lord, he was fine.

Person four was my very best friend. I will just tell you about one of the times that I saved her. We had gone to the Ocean with her father to go clam digging (it’s a popular thing to do on the Oregon coast. The water there is very cold, and it was in the Springtime, I think. We were wearing sweatshirts and jeans and decided to go into the water. 

We were out there, and she was out a little farther than I was. At the beach, there are “sneaker waves” they come from under the surface and have a powerful under tow and they can pull a person out to sea in an instant.  She said she was being pulled out to sea. So, I grabbed her hand and told her not to let go. She said she didn’t think she could hold on. So, I grabbed her sweatshirt and held on to her. I could feel the sea trying to drag her out. We had tried to let her dad know we were in trouble by waving, and he thought we were having fun, so he waved back at us and kept walking.

My Lifeguard training kicked in and I did a side carry (You put an arm across their body and balance the person on your hip so their face is above water, and the drowning person can’t take you under the surface) I began swimming parallel to the shore and we finally got to where we could stand up again.

Later on, she was involved in a terrible tragedy on Mt. Hood, where she was one of the three people in a group of ten that survived. Out of respect for her, I won’t go into a lot of detail about it, but I remember her telling me that she was leading a climb and I didn’t think much of it at the time, because she did that a lot.

She had a difficult time after words, she didn’t know why she survived. It really messed with her head. The other kids were in an ice cave, and she could show the rescuers where they were. They had been caught in a “white out” which means you can’t see anything in front of you, behind you or on either side of you. The danger is falling into a crevasse, sulfur pit or off the North face. You are snow blind. Even if you don’t try to move there’s a danger of hyperthermia. She said she went to find help after hours of being there because she was pretty sure she could, and weather conditions had changed.

She was very shaken by surviving. I told her that that she had been their best chance at survival. If she had not gone for help, they all would have died. She said that they had died anyways. I just held her and listened. She remembered past times when I saved her. I told her she must have a special purpose in living or she would have died.

She was just trying to understand and cope with what had happened. She didn’t understand why she was still alive and that they were not. Why she was still here when so many were not. I have heard this same theme from other people who have survived horrendous things. Some of them, wish that they had not…

I have survived a lot of things myself and I am sure you have too. I think that the debt we owe to those who did not live, is to make something incredible of our lives so we can make the most of our second chance.


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