It was the talk of the town for the entire week. No one expected it, least of all Alex. She paced back and forth over and over again, trying to go over every scenario that she could think of. Any scenario that would explain the drowning. It happened. But it shouldn’t have. She had taken every precaution, it had proven to be not enough. The drowning had still occurred.
“Alex, you can’t beat yourself up about this. There’s nothing that you could have done differently.”
“There’s always something that could have been done differently. I just need to figure out what that something is in this situation.”
“What good will it do you now. The drowning already happened.”
“Because maybe if I know…”
“Nothing will be different.”
Her father tried to reason with her, but Alex wasn’t having it. She knew that there was something she was missing. Something overlooked that could have prevented this from happening.
“Look, sweetie. There’s a nice turnout for the funeral.”
And she did look for just a moment. They were in the Catholic cathedral just down the road from the lake where the drowning had occurred. It was the cathedral she’d attended mass at every Sunday until she turned eighteen and stopped going. It wasn’t that she had been trying to be rebellious. She had just always thought that Catholics were stuffy and way too ritualistic for her liking. She’d planned on finding a faith more suitable to her tastes, but it was something that she’d never made time to follow through with. After everything that had happened, she wished she had.
“I don’t like the sorrowful music their playing.”
“I’m sorry, dear. Why don’t we sit down.”
“I don’t want to sit down, daddy. I’m too anxious to sit still. The pacing helps me think.”
“You can’t change what’s happened, Alex.” He said, tears glistening in his eyes. “Go up and say your last words.”
She nodded. She didn’t know why she found it important, but as soon as the words were out of her father’s mouth, she knew that it was something she needed to do. Hands shaking with fear, she clasped them together as if in prayer and made her way on wobbling feet toward the front of the cathedral hall. On both sides of her, mourners gathered to pay their respects—some crying, and some simply sitting in somber silence with their heads down.
When she finally made it to the front, she wasn’t sure if she could bring herself to look into the casket—to look at everything that had been lost. She felt her father place his hand gently on her shoulder as he walked up behind her.
“Let’s face this together.” He said.
Together, Alex and her father took the last few steps to reach the edge of the casket and both looked down to view the victim. At just that moment, Father Bernstein took the pulpit and began speaking.
“Today, we gather in mourning to celebrate the life of Alex Tramwell, survived by her mother, Maggie Tramwell, and her brother, Adam Tramwell. Alex was a swimming instructor and the supervisor of our small community pool, and it was her bravery and sacrifice that saved two small children, Seth and Billy Emmerson, from drowning last Saturday when they slipped into the deep end of the pool while playing. Alex’s sacrifice of her own life allowed these two to stay close enough to the surface of the water to be saved. Unfortunately, Alex couldn’t save them and herself. Let us all say a prayer for her as she meets her maker and her father in heaven.”
“You know it was a beautiful thing you did, Alex.” Her father said as he gently squeezed her should again. “You’re responsible for those two small children’s lives being saved.”
“Thank you, daddy.” She replied. “I needed to hear that.”