My beautiful, brave sister risked her own life to save a drowning man. She is too humble to realize her heroism.
Years ago, one February, Missy and I took a trip to Gulf Shores to vacation for a few days. It was a much needed respite from everyday life, and a chance for us to connect with each other as women sharing similar life experiences, as sisters, and as friends. We stayed up late at night, watching movies, swapping stories, and laughing so hard our sides hurt with me snorting in good measure- she always makes me laugh beyond the snorting point.
On our last day, we took a long walk on the beach, discovering a loon who had been brought onto the high ground by the rising waters overnight and was stuck in the sand. The sight of that pitiful bird, stranded and helpless, was heart-wrenching. We rushed back to the condo to call local vets and get advice on how to help the poor creature. One of the vets told us to cover the loon with a blanket, scoop him up in it, and take him to the nearby lagoon where he could be released.
Armed with an old blanket and solid determination, we made the journey to the stranded bird, all the while with Missy saying, “You’re going to have to do this, Ash. I just can’t. Are you ready?” and me replying, “Yeah, I’ll do it.” When the critical moment arrived, I froze completely unable to move. Missy (being our brave Missy) grabbed the blanket, scooped the loon up, and headed quickly to the car so we could take the frightened creature to its home. I recall that one or both of us were screaming as the action unfolded. There was never any doubt in my mind that she would be the one performing the rescue when the time came.
Upon returning to the condo with hearts still hammering in our chests, we phoned the vet to let her know the outcome. She asked, “When you let him go, did he look back at you and stretch his wings out?” In tears, we told her that was just what happened. She said to us, “He was saying ‘Thank you.’”
A foreshadowing of an even greater beach rescue that came years later… We can only imagine the man whose life Missy saved, stretching out his own ‘wings’ and impacting others.