Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Miracle of Faith

It was five months ago from today when we experienced the most terrifying experience of our lives; a frightening event that we hope no parent has to go through. At a pool party we held in celebration of Alena's 8th birthday, Elsie was found at the bottom of the pool, still and unconscious, but was soon revived via CPR thanks to the acts of several people who were in the right place at the right time.

She stayed at the SickKids hospital in Toronto for 48 hours for monitoring, where she quickly returned to her normal self - singing, smiling, and being silly. The next day, we went for a walk along the shores of Lake Ontario, and she showed no fear of the water as she waded through its shallow waters.



We remained cautiously optimistic as she continued to show no fear of the water or any adverse effects to the incident, neither physical nor emotional. If anything, it gave her and her siblings a broader perspective of life in general, as similar events would creep into playtime as common, everyday occurrences.

Soon after the incident, we found ourselves moving from Canada to the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Elsie was as excited as the rest of us that our new housing complex had a swimming pool. We have since frequented both the pool and various beaches around the islands at least a couple times a week. Though her words never described it, we could tell that there was a little trepidation around the water, but still no signs of fear or resistance. We have become even more vigilant around pools and about pool safety, as we believe everyone should be.

For a while, Elsie neither improved nor digressed in her swimming abilities. Even after we had hired a swimming teacher to come to our pool on a weekly basis to teach Alena, Reasor, & Elsie, she resisted learning and would instead cut her lesson short to go to the hot tub. With us, she didn't show interest in doing things like putting her face underwater or jumping into the pool. We didn't push her but instead allowed her to progress at her own pace. It is also important to note that this behavior was very normal for Elsie - even before this summer - and did not cause us any concern.

It wasn't until about a month ago when she started to make significant progress. She started to put her face under the water and get into the water without a floatie; next she started to jump off one step into the water, then two steps, then off the side of the pool while holding a hand, then all by herself. This progress seemed to fuel her desire to improve more and more, talking about what she was going to show her teacher at the next lesson. He taught her to do the breaststroke, which she slowly learned to do spanning an increasingly longer distance. Now she can jump into the pool and swim almost to the other side of the pool, about 15 feet away.



Elsie's progress is very encouraging to us, and is many steps in the right direction. It is important to realize that, while anyone in a similar situation will be different, sometimes we just have to face our fears and do our best to overcome them. Living in Hawaii has given us the chance to help Elsie overcome any fear that might have existed after her accident, and to use that as a springboard for progress. While there is still a lot to go, she is a shining example of one full of faith and determination - an example to all of us.

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