“Now give me the baby.”
She calmly agreed but each time I tried to take him, her grip tightened.
“Give me the baby!”
Realizing she would not relinquish her son because of the state of shock she was in, I pried him away. Just as I pulled Nico into my arms, a bright light from above shined directly into my eyes. I peaked into the sky to see what appeared to be a flashlight. Then a splash behind me.
“I have the baby! Get my wife! Please!”
He pointed into the darkness down a narrow alley between the vessel and the pillars.
“Swim that way!”
I listened and went, still peaking over my shoulder to make sure Staci wasn’t far behind. She appeared to have gained strength and was swimming with minimal assistance from the Good Samaritan. We emerged out of the darkness near the front of the boat and came upon a long ladder. The dock was no longer scarce. Guests from all the yachts heard the commotion and made their way over.
At the foot of the staircase was a tiny buoy raised 2 feet over the water. I lifted Nico up as high as I could and he knew he had to climb another few inches to mount it. In that brief moment I felt so proud to be his father, so proud to watch his instinct and awareness to climb up, despite the trauma he went through just moments earlier. Once he secured himself on top, he was awarded with a loud applause from the onlookers. Staci swam quickly behind us and was helped up the stairs by a man with a silver spiked beard. He laid on his stomach and extended his hand down to Staci. I too grabbed hold of the steps.
At the top, I saw Staci, blood dripping down her back, comforting Michael who was hysterical. I ripped Nico’s shirt off and examined him head to toe looking for any severe bleeding or deformities of any kind. Not one scratch.
The four of us squeezed each other as hard as we could in a sloppily formed circle, an act that would be known in the months to come as ‘family hug’. The man with the spiked grey beard tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to the parking lot at the entrance to the yacht club.
“EMS should be here any second. They will take you to South Hampton Hospital. Walk this way.”
Michael began wailing louder when he saw Mommy and his little brother in the back of the ambulance.
I held him tightly and said, “We are okay now Michael. God saved us.”
“I can’t believe this happened Daddy!” he exclaimed fighting off more tears. “I can’t believe you guys almost died! You left me and I was so scared. I thought you were going to die too!” He continued to fight off more tears and was able to slow down his speech. “I have….to ask you a question Dad.”
“Of course baby, ask me anything you want”, I calmly responded fighting off my own tears.
He stared into my eyes and in the most serious of tones he asked, “Daddy, when you were in the water with Mommy and Nico, did you guys see any fish down there?”
If there was anything in the world that could make me feel better at that particular moment, this was it, so I went with it.
“It was dark down there, Michael, so I couldn’t see much, but out in the distance I think I may have seen a sword fish and a hammer head shark.”
Of course those were two of his favorite sea animals. We would talk about the fish I saw that night in the months to come; a comforting piece of the nightmare that he would hold close to his heart.
I sat in our Honda Pilot and put my head back. The murky water from Sag Harbor was still dripping off my clothes and began to fill the car with a mild stench, so I cracked the windows before heading off to the hospital. The warm summer air felt amazing as it grazed over my face. I let out a deep breath and felt calmer than I have ever felt in my entire life. I squinted at each of the headlights in the oncoming lane of 27-East as life passed through Sag Harbor and the Hamptons late that Saturday night.