CS Lewis once said that "grief is like the sky, it covers everything." In recent weeks, our family has found that this is so very true. It seems that there is no right or wrong way to travel this path of grief. I have created this blog in hopes that some day we will be able to look back on our journey and see written proof that our great God never leaves us. God is good all the time.

Celebrating Laynee

You might want to scroll to the bottom of this page and pause the music before playing this video.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Facing Fears

I gain strength, courage and confidence from every experience
in which I really stop to look fear in the face.
I must do the thing I cannot do.
Eleanor Rossevelt

 In the past I have found that our secret fears lose much of the power they have over us once we give voice to them.   I have developed a new and powerful fear since Laynee's accident.  It's a fear that is difficult to describe as it is not fear of a particular object.  It is fear of a concept, an idea, or perhaps it is best said that my fear is of  reality.  I fear, I hate, I despise the reality that my child died....in a swimming pool.....in my backyard.......under the watch of 6 people who loved her desperately.  I fear anything that could, in any way, remind me of this inconcievable truth.  However,  fearing and despising do not make it any less so. 

Without exception, every time I dare to talk about the events surrounding the accident, I am shushed.  People who love me, who mean well, say "ssshhhh, don't do this to yourself.  You don't have to tell me, you don't have to talk about it.  This could happen to anyone.  It was an accident."    The truth is there, regardless of whether or not I talk about it.  It was an accident, this much is true, but it didn't happen to anyone, it happened to us.  To pretend that my fear is not there, to avoid voicing it,  lends power to it and it theatens to consume me, to devour me, to swallow me whole. 

   The warm weather has melted the snow that so mercifully disguised the pool for the entire winter.  It is getting that time of year when we would normally look forward to opening the pool for the summer.  We are also leaving this week for a spring break trip to Gulf Shores, Al abama.  There will be water, lots of it, the kids will be swimming in the gulf and in the pool.  Very soon, I will be immersed in reminders of swimming, water and drowning death.  The time has come to turn around and look my new fear in the face, to do the thing I cannot do. 

Any time I see, hear or smell anything that reminds me of a swimming pool, the icy cold hand of fear wraps itself, like a vice, around me. Every muscle, every nerve stands ready to respond to the intense fear. My hands sweat, my pulse pounds erratically, my airway clogs, and my head fills with a mighty roaring. Call it panic, call it anxiety, call it phobic, call it whatever you wish. Pure and simply,  it is a paralytic fear of reality.

Since the accident, I have avoided all pictures that we have of Laynee in or around the pool, as if somehow that will remove the fact that we even have a swimming pool.   Truth is that we do have a pool.  In fact, we are a family that loves water.   I have been around water all of my life.  I grew up on a farm with a lake in which I spent hours of every summer day.  I grew up with boating and water skiing.  Our previous home had a pool next door that the kids and I swam in almost daily.  Our pool has been a source of therapy for Moise.  We had kids at our house all last summer to swim.  I love water, the kids love water and, in spite of the accident, I am doubtful that any of us will be fearful of water itself.  We will continue to swim, to boat and to water ski.  My fear is not of water, but of the dreadful reality that my little girl died in water.  Avoidance of the pictures does not change the facts   The photos simply do what they are meant to do,  preserve happy memories.  They do not, in anyway contibute to the means of Laynee's death.   

 I go past other houses with swimming pools and I find that most are not enclosed in a way to prevent such accidents.  This observation, which escaped me before, now chills me as I know how fast a tragedy can occur.  I know because reality is that it happened to us.   The color, often referred to as swimming pool blue, now represents horror to me, it's brillance taunting me with cruelty.  The fresh clean scent of chlorine is now a deathly odor.  When I pass the aisles filled with pool toys and chemicals,  a voice inside of my head screams at me, "Your child drowned, your child drowned.  You don't need those toys, your child drowned."  It seems that the more I deny these things, the more I keep silent about them, the more power they gain over me. 

As important as it is to face truth, it is equally important to acknowledge the untruth that our enemy would have us believe.  I dread when people, who do not know me well, ask about my children.  Normally my chidren are my favorite topic but now it generally leads to the fact that my youngst child died.  Then, almost inevitably,  I have to speak the painful truth..... "she drowned."  Those words fill me with a sense of shame and inadequacy.  The father of lies sweeps in and fills my head with the question "how could I allow my child to drown?"  This question is invalidated by the word "allow". While the adversary would like nothing better than to have me believe this, reality is that I absolutely did NOT "allow" or "let" this happen. Without question, there were many mistakes made that day, the worst of which was lack of effective communication,  but we did not "let" Laynee drown.  Every member of this family would have laid down our life to save her. 

When we leave for our trip this weekend there is a group of our friends who have offered to come and remove our pool from our property.  It is too painful to look at, a constant, aching reminder of all that has been lost.   I really cannot imagine what it will be like to not have a pool but Jim and I and the kids are in agreement that none of us will ever be able to get in the pool again.  In Jamee's words,  "I know the exact spot where she died, I don't ever want to be in that spot." While it was not the fault of the pool that Laynee died, neither does it serve a purpose other than to remind us of that day.  Therefore, it is with grateful heart that we accept the generosity of our friends.

While I will never, ever understand the "why's" and "how's" of the accident,  I do have confidence and faith to believe that the time had come for our great God to gather Laynee into His loving arms.  I also know that had we not had a pool, He would have chosen another means to bring her home to Him.    When the waves of fear and doubt crash upon me, my God is there to pull me up from the mire. 

For God hath not given us a spirit of fear,
but of power and of love and of sound mind.
II Timothy 1:7

Because "I must do the ting I cannot do"  here are pictures
of better, happier days spent in the water.


  1. Holmes,
    We understand your reasoning for wanting to get rid of the pool.We will miss all of the summer memories we had swimming in that pool. Most importantly, we will miss the memories of swimming with Sweet Layner Bug. We will be praying for your family as the pool is covered this next week. Have a great trip to Gulf Shores.
    We love you.
    the Rollins

  2. I am in awe of your strength and courage...even though you would probably say that you feel otherwise on the inside.

    Please know that I needed to read your words today and I praise God that through your loss, you are helping me deal with mine.


  3. Karol,
    Thank you for your comment on my blog. I sat, reading these words today, with tears in my eyes, and found myself re-reading them again. So beautifully written. I felt like you were writing the words of my heart. It's amazing how much I can relate to your loss, to your story. Though I would never claim to understand how you feel exactly, I can empathasize greatly. Sweet Laynee is missed so much I can tell. She is beautiful and brings a smile just to look at her pictures.
    We too had our pool removed by a group of friends... and I am so glad we did.
    You are brave to post pictures... I still shutter when I (acidentally) come across any of Brayden in the water or any of our pool.
    In facing my own fears I have signed up my Ellie for self-rescue water safety swimming lessons through an organization called ISR Infant swimming resource. It is a very thorough program teaching babies to self rescue (from 6 mos old!) to float, get to the side of pool, etc...
    I know it will be so incredibly difficult for me to take her... but I also know how important it is, and the peace of mind it will bring to know that she has those skills.
    anyhow... thank you for your inspiration. Praying your trip went well.. and your adjustment to the changes at home will pass peacefully.
    Braydens Mommy

  4. Karol,
    I posted a new blog post tonight. I borrowed some of your quotes and linked over to your story in this post of sweet Laynee. It deals so perfectly with what I am dealing with right now.
    Please let me know if you prefer I didn't link over or use the info and I will delete it right away. thank you!
    Blessings, Michelle