Last weekend I went to the Texas coast, a place of many great memories for my family. My weekend plans were simply to include a visit to Mustang Island and experience some of the wonders of nature.
A friend went with me. Because he had been to that area recently, he drove. Interestingly, he drove for a while on the beach and tried a couple of spots before pulling into the one we agreed was perfect. As we were driving toward the beach we were talking about the ocean. We talked about how powerful it was to realize the waves that crash on the shore come from so far away and how much energy they posses.
We sat up some chairs, put on sunscreen, opened a bottle of water….and sat down. We were taking in the ocean and beachgoers while listening to some music. I looked around at the people on either side of us. To our left was a family, I saw Mom, dad and a teenage boy who was texting. To my right was a multi-generational family ranging in age from what I assumed to be grandmother to infant. It was setting up to be a gorgeous and serene day.
No sooner than I sat down and evaluated my surroundings than did the mom from my left come to me and say, “should I call someone? I can’t find my son”! It took a moment to process what exactly she was saying to me. She actually had two sons. The teen I saw texting and her husband were going out into the water to look for the other son. I was sure I saw three heads in the water. I told her I did. I told her we could let the person up the beach selling permits know because there were no lifeguards. Even she seemed to be a worried mom more than a woman in crisis.
Soon she was calling 911, police were arriving, people on the beach began looking, the lifeguards arrived, jet skis and helicopters were deployed. There was a search for a 12-year old boy wearing a yellow shirt with a number 1 on the back. My heart ached. With a 10-year old of my own it was difficult not to think about the situation from the position of that mother, completely helpless and heartsick. I said a prayer, hugged my friend, and asked what I could do to help. Nothing. There was really nothing I, or anyone else on the beach could do but pray and count personal blessings. I took a walk to the jetty. The thoughts going through my mind were innumerable. Because I kept thinking about my own son I had to keep reminding myself that this wasn’t happening to me, just beside me.
After it had been at least an hour with no one finding this little boy, my friend and I decided to leave the beach. The time in the sun and sand we were looking forward to instead was turning into a feeling of despair. We drove away from the beach but conversations and thoughts turned time and again to that poor family. Seeing the mom drop to her knees in the sand and cry out from her gut a pain that only someone in that position could ever know will forever be etched into my memory of that day.
Late that night we were both still thinking about the events as they unfolded. He suggested a drive back to the water to bring some closure. As we stood in the water I felt so thankful to have been with a friend capable of hearing and expressing emotion.
The next day I searched several times on the local news updates to stay tuned into the story. Finally, late Sunday night I found that his body had been discovered two miles south of where he was last seen. While my heart was hurting, I felt some peace for that mom. I couldn’t imagine in my worst nightmare going through that experience. I couldn’t imagine being a mom who walked away from that beach without him.