To the Mom of the Gator attack at the Grand Floridian (WDW)
I am you. We have never met, I have never faced your tragedy but that’s all I can think this morning- “I AM YOU”. I have done what you have done. I have saved and spent countless hours planning to take my family on a Magical trip to see the Mouse. Every trip has its own expectations, hopes and dreams. Weeks of preparing and talking with my children about all the exciting things we will do and see. Finally arriving and checking into one of the many beautiful Walt Disney World Resorts. Wandering the property pointing out the different animals we don’t see at home, a gecko, an armadillo even a small gator or two. We stand in line to catch our resort bus or monorail to the park of our choice. I lather my children with sunscreen to protect them from the Florida sun. We stop for the family photo at every landmark possible. Even after all these trips there’s nothing quite like stepping onto Main Street to see that Castle. Each time it’s breath-taking. I have spent many hours at the parks with children melting down trying to make the most of each moment. Maybe this was your first trip, that once in a life time trip or maybe like my family you go as often as possible. Whatever the case may be, we are the same. Like you, my family has spent our evenings on the beaches of a Walt Disney Resort. We grab our jackets and head to the resort beach to unwind from a busy day at the parks. We scout out a place to sit for the perfect view of the movie, fireworks, Electrical Water Parade. My children run ahead of me excited to have a little freedom from my clutching hands. Sometimes I chase after them pretending to slip in the sand so the game can continue and memories are made. Other times I firmly plant myself on the beach because let’s face it, walking all day at the parks is exhausting and now it’s time to relax! As I sit far enough from the water’s edge to miss the mist carried in by the gentle breeze, my children run along the shoreline. I carry on in conversation with those around me, keeping an eye on my children who play in the near distance. They scoop up the wet sand because it makes for the best sandcastles, they toss sticks in the water to watch them float. As they step into the shallow water I yell out to remind them not to get their clothes wet as it’s a bit of a hike back to our room for dry clothes or at least take their shoes off before wading in. I check my watch to see how much longer before the movie starts, until the fireworks begin, or the Electrical Water Parade is due to come by thankful for moments like these. Truth be told, I’m not the only one. Other families are doing this exact same thing. Some parents are multitasking as their children head in different directions to discover their own areas to play in. Everyone is in a relaxed state because this is what vacation looks like! Tragically for you, a force of nature, an alligator, stole your child, your heart, while no doubt your family was enjoying one of these simple moments like I have so many times before. The unimaginable has happened and I’m sure you have replayed that moment over and over in your head. I can not begin to fathom what you are going through but I can tell you, I am you! This could have been my family, my child. It could have happened to thousands of others who have sat on these very beaches. People are harsh and they will be cruel accusing and blaming. Probably not nearly as mean as you are being to yourself with each passing hour. I simply want you to know, “This is not your fault”. You went on vacation and the unthinkable happened. It could have been my child or any other family who has walked those beaches. My heart is breaking for you. My prayers are going out to you. I am hugging my kids tighter because of you. Though you may feel otherwise you are not alone. I am all too aware, I AM YOU.