After a cool, rainy Fourth of July, Prospect Park burst into summer glory on Saturday and Sunday.
We went over to Lakeside on Sunday, 24 hours after a tragedy darkened Saturday's festivities.
The lake was peaceful, its surface rippled only by a family of swans. But the previous day, police divers dragged its murk for hours searching for a 2-year-old girl who wandered away from a barbecue near the Boathouse with her 4-year-old cousin, according to the New York Times and other outlets. Her father, an Uzbekistani cabbie, and her mother were tending to kabobs; in the cheerful picnic chaos, the unthinkable happened. I remember my own little girl somehow vanishing from my side once in a Babies-R-Us; I could swear I never let go of her hand, yet she managed to wander off into a playset while I got halfway across the floor before noticing she was gone.
Choppers, canine teams, and a host of concerned strangers combed the park after the boy was found alone, covered with the algae blooming on the lake's surface.
We once walked by the shore with a little girl who cheerfully strode out onto the dense mats of duckweed, thinking it was solid turf, and we laughed as she sunk in up to her shins. Was that what happened to these little ones, I wonder?
Little Rushona Kurbonova was lifted out by police divers about 6 p.m. After hours of anguished waiting, her distraught mother collapsed and was taken off on a stretcher. Her family will reportedly return to Uzbekistan to bury her. My thoughts and prayers are with them in this unimaginable grief, and also with these good men of the NYPD who experienced the terrible sorrow of recovering her.