As I am packing and preparing for our family to go on vacation in a few weeks, I can’t stop thinking about Melissa Graves, the mom whose little boy was snatched by an alligator while vacationing at Disney. I can imagine she was preparing much the same as I am now for her family’s vacation last week.
I can just imagine her, excited with anticipation of the fun, memories and adventures that were coming, as she washed and lovingly folded size 2T socks, pajamas, and everything in between. Moving so methodically, casually from room to room, drawer to drawer.
I can imagine her checking to make sure her little guy had his special blankie or stuffed toy, knowing as mommies do that no one would sleep if it were left behind.
I can imagine her packing sippy cups, Cheerios, and Gold Fish into a smaller bag that would be close at hand in case little Lane let his mommy know he was hungry for a snack. I can imagine her adding a few beeping, button-laden toys to the front pouch of that bag to try and keep him busy or still for about thirty seconds, knowing that her toddler had boundless energy and never seemed to stop moving.
I can imagine her posting on Facebook and social media about her family’s upcoming trip to Florida, maybe even counting down the days or “sleeps” until Disney.
I can imagine her taking one last glance around the house, making sure nothing was forgotten, checking the thermostat to make sure it was set just right and reminding her husband to make sure all the doors were locked and their home was secured.
I can imagine the pleasant exhaustion that she felt as she tucked her children in at the end of each fun-filled, miles of walking, stroller pushing days they had so far.
I can imagine her watching Lane happily splashing in the water, finally occupied for a few moments and in those few moments feeling peace, happiness, and contentment.
What I can’t imagine is the sheer heart-stopping, horrifying fear she felt when realizing he was there one minute and gone the next, like being caught in a nightmare where everything is in slow motion and you can’t run fast enough.
I can’t imagine the agony that she must feel, not being able to scream because it’s so deep inside her with its choking grip making it hard for her to even breathe, much less utter a sound.
I can’t imagine the sickening nausea as she packs away the sippy cups, snacks and toys knowing the round chubby little hands of their owner will never again reach for them. Can’t imagine her folding and packing away soft little pajamas with their sweet baby smell that she had dressed him in the night before.
There are many facets of this unspeakable tragedy that I cannot possibly imagine but sadly it doesn’t make this any less real. The reality is the unimaginable happened and this mom is going home with aching empty arms and a gaping bleeding hole cut through her chest that nothing or no one on earth can fix.
However, although we can’t imagine ever being in the living nightmare that she is going through, we can honor the memory of her son by hugging our children a little more tightly and drinking up every precious moment we have with them whether they are adventure-filled or ordinary. We can honor him by sending our prayers and sincerity, instead of blame and judgement about something we cannot possibly imagine.
As for me, I will be continuing to think and pray for Melissa and her family, thoughts and prayers that she probably never imagined she would desperately need.