Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On Thin Ice

Recently, I’ve been struggling. All semester I put off reading and note taking hoping that maybe next week I would feel better enough to tackle it. But that “better” week never came. And now there’s a deadline. There’s literally only a couple of days until I’ll be faced with three hour law exams on subjects I’ve only barely managed to pay attention to this semester.

And doing the work now isn’t easy either. There isn’t a lot of time and I don’t feel much better. I feel like my motivation has been on thin ice lately, because as soon as I finish studying for one class I don’t get to take a break. I immediately have to start studying for the next class. So, despite the impending doom of the exams, I’m still finding it hard to concentrate. Or care.

But today I got a reminder that (a) there is more to life than law school and (b) I am still a very capable person. And this reminder literally came in the form of thin ice.

I was leaving the dog park this afternoon when I saw another girl calling after her 10-month-old puppy, Scarlet. There is a lake next to our dog park, and Scarlet had run out on to the ice, chasing some geese. But as she got father away from shore, the ice got thinner and eventually she fell through. Then Scarlet was struggling to get back up on the ice, but she couldn’t do it. We tried to get her to swim to a spot where the ice was thicker, but she still couldn’t get back up. If someone didn’t go in after her, Scarlet was going to drown.

So Scarlet’s mommy started in after her, but the ice cracked under her feet immediately. I told her that she should lie down on her stomach and wriggle out to her and she followed my instructions. She made it almost all the way to the struggling puppy, but when she reached out to her the weight on the thin ice was too much and she fell through too. Then she couldn’t get back up on the ice either, and with her chest in the water and the puppy still struggling, she started to panic.

Without a second thought I took my jacket off and went in after them both. Honestly I am amazed at how calm I was. I guess my ancient lifeguard skills took over. I could see that she was panicking but also that she could reach the lake bottom. She wasn’t drowning. So I told her it was going to be ok. I told her I would break a path through the ice so that we could all get out. And I immediately stomped into the freezing lake, breaking through about ten feet of ice to get out to her and her puppy.

I grabbed Scarlet’s collar and pulled her past her mommy and around me, so that she could swim back to shore through the path I had made. Then I grabbed her mommy by the hand, told her again that it would be ok, and hauled us both out of the freezing lake. We all hurried to our cars to get warm and get home. Scarlet’s mommy thanked me for saving their lives.

There may be some things that I physically can’t do anymore, and there may be some times that I feel like less than myself, but today I remembered that I am still me. I am still good in an emergency. I am still capable of keeping a clear head and doing what needs to be done. And while I wouldn’t wish a swim in a freezing lake on anyone, I’m really glad I was there today.


KCFitch said...

I've always been proud to be your cousin, but right now I'm extra proud of you. You're a good person and you did a great thing. Love, K

A said...

Holy Hell, Z! That's amazing. I'm so proud of you for helping and keeping the puppy's mom calm. She's very lucky that she had someone like you around to help in what was clearly her desperate hour. Does this make you an official polar bear? And can I call the local news? Someone should!

~Mariah~ said...

Thanks, guys. I have to say it was a more exciting study break than I was expecting!

J said...


and i say that as someone with a solid background in ice cold water. so glad you could help somebody else (and their puppy!! i love my lil' bears and can appreciate that!), while being reminded of the fact that you ARE totally insanely tough.

not only can you still finish the semester well, but you WILL :-)