After we got back from Church on Sunday I was busying myself doing some chores around the house. The first one I was to put a bike rack onto the roof rack of my car. Sam and Anna were out bugging me while I was putting the rack on. Sam was holding parts for me for a while, and Anna kept asking me about setting up the inflatable pool Kathleen had bough on Saturday. I finished putting the rack on the car, and headed in the house.
It was pretty cool for a June day, but I got a big drink for myself anyways. I went into the backyard, and started to get the parts for the pool out. I realized I would need to clean out some things from under the deck in order to make way for the lawn mower, which would have to be moved in turn to make way for the pool filter. A lot of shuffling around. Anna and PJ were playing around under the deck and sort of help me, and they were being rambunctious and just sort of playing around. I brought a few things out from under the deck. I wondered where Kathleen was. I asked PJ where mom was. He said that she was sleeping on the chair in the front room.
Kathleen was taking a nap in the front room. Anna had put her bright blue princess sleeping bag over her like a blanket and she looked very comfortable. I went back out the backyard. I started to unroll the pool. I asked Anna if she had seen Sam around, because I suddenly noticed I hadn't seen him in a while and Kathleen was sleeping. This was all a little odd, because this time of day Kathleen is normally up and puttering around the kitchen or sitting on the deck, and she does things like yell out "hey! is Sam out there?" But I figured Sam must be in the basement, because that is where he goes this time of day. But I made a mental note to check on where Sam was.
I then grabbed a few pieces of garbage that needed to go out to the garage. I brought the stuff out to the garage, and as I went around the corner of the garage I saw one of the windshield wipers on my car, which was sitting out in the driveway, was propped up like post straight out from the windshield. "That must have been Sam!" I thought to myself, and as I walked towards the car my heart lurched up into my throat when I saw Sam climbing around in the back seat of my Saab. His head was dripping in sweat and he was upset, although he wasn't crying.
I brought Sam inside and gave him some ice water and wiped off his head with a wet rag. He didn't seem to be suffering from heatstroke. I think he went back out into the front yard, and wanted to back into the car so he opened the door and climbed in. Because I had been working on it, I had forgotten to lock it. He had then shut himself into the back seat of the car and because both of the back seat doors had child locks he could not open them. At first I had thought I had shut him in when I had gone inside from the car the first time, but I couldn't have done that because it wouldn't have explained the windshield wiper.
The windshield wiper, which happened to be standing up like a flag to grab my attention, was the only thing had brought me over to the car close enough to see Sam. In 75 degree weather, the temperature in a car reaches a hundred degrees in ten minutes.
So, imagine Sam had not gotten sidetracked to play with the windshield in his little adventure, and instead headed straight for the car. Ten minutes later, I drop off the garbage, and don't notice him there. I go to the back yard. Maybe I ask Anna to look for Sam. Maybe she listens, or maybe I have to ask her again a few minutes later. Finally I go inside, and wake up Kathleen and ask her if she has seen Sam. I look in the basement. The next place to look is all through the house, the backyard the neighborhood. So instead we would have found him fifteen minutes later, after twenty five minutes of one hundred degree heat.
Bu then I might have seen him, too. Maybe I would have heard him cry when I took the garbage back. Maybe, a few minutes later I would have found him in the car, just sweaty and hot and scared, just a few minutes later. Maybe either way it would have worked out just fine. Maybe it wouldn't gotten that hot and he could have been in the car for an hour without any ill effects, and we would have certainly found him by then. But you don't know, you don't ever know these things, and its the weight of that "what if" that weighs down on you when you take the time to think of it. When you think that he might have died out there locked in a car on a summer day.
Still, thank god I saw that wiper.