My wife and I just finished an awesome week of vacationing in the Smoky Mountains. If you've never been; you should go! We aren't into the whole "tourist trap" stuff...$60 per person for a dinner and mediocre talent in the show....no thanks. So we stuck mostly to the National Forest trails and enjoying God's creation.
We had decided we wanted to go to the highest point in the Appalachian Trail called "Clingman's Dome." We hopped in my in-laws Jeep and ventured along the winding roads that hug the mountainside. As we climbed higher and higher we started to see other hikers dressed in gloves, hats and thick jackets. This caused me to think that my shorts and t-shirt were not a great choice for a 4+ mile hike.
Some of our party needed to use the restroom and so the rest of us were standing around. I had my daughter in my arms and had her wrapped in a blanket to keep her extra warm.
And then it happened...
A wind gust blew the blanket out my hand and exposed my daughter to the cold air. I quickly reached for the edge of the blanket with my free arm as my daughter decided to make a maneuver to free herself from my grasp.
It was one of those moments that happens in slow motion. Where you know the disaster that is getting ready to happen, but you can't do anything about it. I let out an audible yell (I say yell..my mother-in-law says scream...I choose to believe it was a very deep/manly yell) as I watched my daughter plummet towards the ground. It was like a car crash that takes so long, but everything after is such a blur.
I remember bending down and picking her up expecting to see blood, but there was none. My mind ran 50,000 miles per hour. Flashbacks of every conversations my wife and I had had about parents who had dropped their kids and what happened to their children ran through my head. I imagined my daughter losing her teeth or having brain damage because I was careless for a fraction of a second.
I handed my daughter to my wife and knew that I had to get away from the situation. I walked away with my hands on my head because I felt like I had had the wind knocked out of me. It was a mixture of not being able to breath and feeling like I was going to be able to say that I had thrown up at 6500 feet. I paced back and forth hoping to wake up from this nightmare, but it was reality.
My father-in-law came to the rescue and came and assured me that all parents have been there. Where a split second decision or lack of attention causes an incident that we will never forget.
My daughter is fine and only had a scrape on her head and finger, but I was shaken for quite a long time. I couldn't stop holding on to her and the smile on her face means so much more to me after the fall. As a result I'll be way more cautious about handling my amazingly beautiful piece of love.