Through the Ice

Based on actual events

Excitement overtakes me. It is February 11 and the ice on Lake St. Clair is 15 inches thick, I have waited for this moment for 2 years. Pleading for snow and thick ice, so that I can actualize my fantasy of taking my Polaris 2 up snowmobile on the lake. My youngest son Hunter who is 11 at the time has anxiously waited for this moment also. We team up to take the sled on the ice. We arrive on the ice. I ask Hunter, “Where do you want to go?” He says “Canada, Mom” pointing across the lake, I said “no, we’ll stay close to shore for our first time.”

We make our way cautiously heading north my friend lives on one of the canals up the road, we turn down that canal. I park in front of her seawall and take my cellular phone out of my ski coats pocket, I call her but she isn’t home so we decide to head out. I remember this patch of ice it’s thicker and bounces Hunter on the back so I veer away from shore. I feel slush on my boot; I look over my left shoulder and see my Hunter in the lake. My only thought was getting him out quickly so I take my hand off the throttle and lower myself into the lake, I push him on top of the ice as quick as I can, and he’s out within seconds. I am now in 6-7 feet of water on February 11 and the wind chill is -11 degrees. Hunter says, “Mom, you have to get out of there”, I said “I know, I will”. One of my gifts is being able to stay calm under unbelievable stress. I have my hands on top of the ice pulling myself out up to my waist, repeatedly I fall back in, I’m kicking the ice as hard as I can trying to break it with my feet and hands. Hunter says “Mom, you have to get out of there”. I reach into my coat and hand Hunter my cell phone, “Hunter, dial 911”, I call out. He says “Mom, your phone got wet and won’t work”.

My last few thoughts were 1. Why do I save for retirement? 2. I have life insurance so my family will be okay, 3. I can’t die in front of my son; he will forever be messed up and unable to have a relationship with any woman. I have to get out of here alive, I feel my heart rate drop and I am becoming so tired. I just want to lay back and rest. Hunter calls me back yelling “Mom, you have to get out of there”, I said “I know Hunter, go to the shore and I’ll be there soon”. Being stubborn like me he says “no, I’m not going to leave you there to die”. Hunter kneels down looking into the crater in Lake St. Clair staring into my eyes and yells to the top of his lungs, “God save my mom’s life, now!” Within seconds I am ejected from the icy grip of Lake St. Clair, I land on top of the ice. I look left and right breathing heavily, Hunter says, “Mom get up”, but I can’t. My limbs won’t work as all of the blood has raced to my heart. I say “go to the shore Hunter”, Hunter bravely says “No, I’m not going to leave you there to die, get up mom, get up”. I’m thinking what a stubborn kid he is and decide to crawl to the shore. When we get to the shore, I stand up, the blood has recirculated back to my limbs, he gives me the most amazing hug, I said “Hunter, I wet my pants”, he says “its okay mommy, no one will know”.

We make our way on the ice and walk a few blocks to our house. We reach the front door of our home. Just as I turn the handle my husband John is there, he says “what happened to you guys?” We go through and recall the story and all of the details while he is researching frost bite on the internet. We’re alive, and I have to say I have never felt that loved before. In retrospect I have tried to make sense of why that happened to us, what could I have done differently to have a better outcome. But, I don’t think that’s an experience most live to tell about and Hunter knows the power of asking God for his assistance and he will come through. Hunter also knows I would give my life for his anytime. Do I have regrets? I would have to say no. It turned out the best way it could have and I couldn’t have taught Hunter the lesson as powerfully as we experienced the outcome.

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