5 Life Lessons Learned From My Son’s Near Death Experience
By Guest Blogger Ruth Zive
My son was blue, limp, lifeless, silent… essentially dead. And then in five moments of interminable chaos, stress, hysteria and prayer, my daughter and I brought him back to life.
This day changed everything, and ultimately propelled me off of the fence, in so many important ways.
I found him in the pool, face down and floating. He wasn’t quite 2-years-old. It happened in an instant; he was watching a Barney video in my bedroom; I was helping my daughter pack for sleepover camp. And when I realized he wasn’t where he was supposed to be, I barreled towards the backyard, knowing instinctively that he was there.
I don’t quite remember what happened next – I know that I jumped in the pool, pulled him out, lay him on the kitchen floor, started administering what I remembered from the CPR course I had taken years earlier – and screaming for my oldest daughter to come help (she had just completed a babysitting course that included CPR training). I remember praying a lot, begging God to spare him… to spare me.
I remember feeling in that moment that my life was over; I would never be able to cope with the loss; I would never recover. But then I witnessed a miracle. My daughter had essentially taken over the CPR, and was screaming “breathe Josh, you can do it,” and as she was screaming, he suddenly gurgled up a spout of water and let out a barely audible whimper. He wasn’t dead.
We both scrambled to continue heart compressions, and he started to pink up, showing signs that he was getting air. The paramedics arrived, whisked him out of the kitchen into the ambulance and away we went to the ER. Josh survived without any lasting impact whatsoever. He is now seven-years-old and loves wrestling, basketball…and yes, swimming in the pool.
As a result of this harrowing experience, I have truly learned 5 invaluable lessons. I share them with you today in hopes that you will keep them in mind as you navigate your way through prioritizing your life. Here they are…
1. Life is short – Until you are up close and personal with the mortality of someone you love, these words don’t quite pack the same punch. Life is short and fragile and nothing really matters more than the love you share with your family. Make the most of it.
2. Pick your battles – The laundry piles up, your ‘to-do’ list keeps growing and work demands are considerable. But in the larger scheme of things, these are all surmountable obstacles. Stress is relative, and if we can sustain that perspective, we won’t get quite as worked up over the things that really don’t matter.
3. Cut yourself some slack – I was riddled with guilt. I couldn’t get through the day without feeling sick with self-loathing. But slowly, I accepted that it was unfair to define myself by this one misstep (albeit grave). Accidents happen; people make mistakes. Give yourself credit for all of the wonderful things that you do, and acknowledge the contributions you make in other people’s lives.
4. Don’t judge – I fancied myself a fairly educated, aware, involved and assertive Mom. But Josh’s accident was extremely humbling. Even with the best intentions, we can’t prevent catastrophe. We tend to be judgmental of other people’s efforts (How could she let her son do that? Why wasn’t she watching? Why does she allow her daughter to be friends with that crowd? How come her children eat so much junk food?). I’ve cut myself some slack, but because of this experience, I’m also much less judgmental of others. Every well-intentioned Mom deserves the benefit of the doubt.
5. Take risks – This seems a funny piece of advice from someone whose son nearly drowned. But in fact, this incident actually freed me to reevaluate my life. When you’ve visited hell (even briefly), the prospect of changing your job, losing money, taking a risk isn’t nearly as daunting. Shortly after Josh’s drowning, I realized that I wanted to make a dramatic career change. And I did.
I am so grateful for the miracle of that day. But I feel even more blessed to have that reminder that I must cherish my children, seize opportunities, enjoy the moment, stop worrying about nonsense and invest relentlessly in the most precious relationships of my life. Josh’s near death gave me perspective that I might never have achieved otherwise. It pushed me off of the fence.
Ruth Zive is a writer, mom-to-5 (plus pooch), wife, Ashtanga yoga devotee, designer handbag enthusiast, special needs advocate and vegetarian chocoholic. In her spare time, she works on her freelance writing blog. Visit Ruth online at http://freelancewritingblog.com/
Tell us, has a difficult experience ever taught you any life lessons? What has adversity taught you about prioritizing your life? Share with our community. Or as always, please feel free to leave Ruth a comment.