Never trained to swim, in water well over their heads, and at the mercy of the strong current, they didn't have too much time left before they became fodder for the evening news. (continued from
The husband saw that his children were in trouble and went out into the water while the women on the beach looked on in terror. The husband swam for a while but was not getting any closer to the kids as he was not a strong swimmer. After a time, the single woman noticed that the husband had turned back to shore. She screamed aloud to nobody and to everybody, "What the heck is he doing?" It turned out that he had given up his children for dead. He figured that he could not reach them and headed back for shore while he felt he could still make it. Surely he could hear his children dying. From where I stand, far from that horrible scene, I can only label that man as a full-fledged coward. As I see it, you only have a few moments in your life where you are faced with stepping up, where you need to put your personal safety aside for others, where you are called upon to demonstrate your mettle, what you are truly made of, regardless of the odds for success. This was one such moment.
When the single woman, who had never before been in the ocean beyond her knees, recognized what was going on, her attention turned to the kids. The first one had just gone under and the other two were desperately trying to pull him up. All three were swallowing water, struggling for air, and losing the battle of endurance. At that moment she declared, "Not while I'm alive." She then fearlessly dove into the water and splashed and kicked and dog-paddled, somehow reaching the kids moments before they succumbed. Somehow, sore and bone-weary at a level that she had not known before, she made it back to the beach with the kids wrapped in her arms. She single-handedly had saved the lives of her friend's three children.
When the mother was telling the story to our small group at the next meeting, she was obviously thankful for her friend's heroism and her selfless act that risked her life. I was thankful for the outcome and the fact that her family was O.K.. However, I kept thinking, how can you ever look at your husband as anything other than a raving coward? This man chose to leave his kids to die to avoid risk to himself. His actions sicken me. They sicken me because I recognize times in my past where I needed to step up and be a man, and instead, also chose the coward's way of swimming back to the safety of shore.
(Part 2 of 2)