Devoiler: The Secret My Husband Kept from me
Tractopelle and Goings on Around here

The Secret Revealed: word for rip current or undertow in French

The photo Jean-Marc took of our daughter, before she momentarily disappeared.

The illusion of calm attracts swimmers. However, when great waves diminish, they (swimmers) are taken far away from the beach. When they try to swim against the current, they tire, weaken, and end up drowning. (See French translation below). 

Today's Word: contre-courant

: ripcurrent, pull of tide, undertow

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L'illusion de calme attire les baigneurs. Cependant, quand les vagues venant du large faiblissent, ils sont emportés loin de la plage. Quand ils essaient de nager à contre-courant, ils se fatiguent, faiblissent et finissent par se noyer. -from "Courant d'arrachement"  French Wikipedia entry.

A Day in a French Life...
by Kristin Espinasse

"There is something I have to talk to you about." The seconds that followed my husband's startling statement were punctuated by heartbeats. Lying there in bed, in the old stone grange of a rented island cottage, my thoughts raced to guess Jean-Marc's next words. Our children safe in the next room, Jean-Marc said softly:

"Jackie disappeared into the ocean...."

The punctuated thumping I had felt earlier was coming straight from my husband's heart, which beat against my back as he pulled me closer. "I could not keep this to myself any longer...." he admitted.

Jean-Marc could not bear to relive the moment when he watched our daughter being swept out to sea, and now he resisted my efforts to comfort him. "I need to finish," he said, "please let me finish," he urged, as I assured him all was OK.

"I was on the shore," he explained, "taking photos of Jackie as she swam out with her bodyboard. The water was so calm. And then a giant wave rose up and Jackie disappeared! After the wave crashed, I scanned the water for her. Fifteen... twenty seconds passed and I still could not see her. She had vanished. I was quickly swimming out when I heard a surfer shouting, "She is over there!"

With his eyes steadied on his child, Jean-Marc swam towards the horizon.

*    *    *

When Jackie could finally share her own grief with me a day later, owing to a secret vow, she said: "Maman, j'ai bu la tasse. I swallowed a mouthful. When I came up from the water, the shore was so far away.... 

I tried to swim back but became exhausted. And then I panicked. I thought about my life, including our last fight, and did you know I always love you--

Then I heard Papa shouting, Swim! Swim! But I was afraid for him trying to reach me. It was impossible to reach the shore. We would both drown!

*    *    *

Jean-Marc continued to shout, "Get on your bodyboard!" Jackie did what she was told and soon father and daughter reached one another. They were met by a rescue team who helped them out of the water, to the shore, where they took Jackie's blood pressure before letting her go home. 

By the time I could comfort my daughter, a day later, I said to her, "Tell me everything you need to say. Get it all out." 

As she rested her head in my lap, I stroked her soft hair and listened. "Ce n'est pas facile à comprendre." It is hard to understand, she said. As her words trailed off, I recognized the voice of a survivor. 

Smokey and Jackie.  When someone has returned from a traumatic experience, listen to them, for as long as they need to express their thoughts. 

Post Note: So why did my family keep this secret from me? Because, as my son says, "Tu es emotive." (My short response would be: "Yes, emotional. But with the strength to lift every lead-heavy hurt off of your heart for the rest of eternity. And that adds up to a ton of relief. So please accept it next time!") 

Thank you for sharing today's post with a friend, along with this tip (add your own): If you are caught in a rip current, swim across it, parallel to the shore.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety