I felt my own lungs collapse and my heart sink heavy when I saw my little boy, back to me all hunched over and struggling. I scooped him up and seconds later had him upside down, beating his back hard, "Are you okay? Can you breathe?" I turned him right side up, and his panic and silence and color told me my fears were confirmed. Something was lodged in his windpipe, and I had no idea what. Back upside down, beating and praying, and beating. I couldn't see his face and I wanted to so badly. So I turned him back up and checked again. Nothing. No air, no sounds, no breathing. Just pure fear on sweet baby face. I thought about our neighbor, a paramedic, should I run to his house? No, no time for that. And they had just moved, yesterday. No time to call Aron, no time for the ER. I prayed prayers with no words, only groans and pleads and Jesus help me. I turned him over and beat, and beat so hard my heart broke because I knew I was hurting him. My mind raced a thousand thoughts, but the only one I can remember is "Is my baby going to die in my arms right now? Are these my last moments with him alive? NO! Please, God! NO! Save him!" He gagged and let out a half-cry, and I thought maybe it dislodged, so I turned him up to check. But he still couldn't breathe. Again, over he went, upside down, and after an eternity of my own heart standing still, he started to gag and cough. He must have swallowed the object, because it never came out. He was coughing up blood, and the wave of relief quickly crashed into panic as i wondered what in the world he could have swallowed and did he sever arteries or veins, and was my baby now going to bleed to death from the inside as the object made its way down his esophagus?
We wept, and he told me over and over again, "Scared! I choked. Scared. Scared. I choked" He rubbed his face all over mine and the more I cried, the more he cried, so i tried to hold back the tears and shaking so he could settle down. We knelt in the corner at the toy basket where he was playing; I needed to know what he had just swallowed to figure out if we needed to go straight to the ER. Two small, half eaten gobstoppers lay there. I asked him if this is what he was eating...did he find candy and eat it? He nodded yes. I remember the Gobstoppers from Halloween night. The kids had opened them when going through their stash, but Aron took them away & threw them in the garbage...perfect size as they are to lodge in tiny tracheas. The kids must have dropped a few out of the box into the toy basket before daddy stole them away.
Not fifteen minutes later we welcomed into our home new friends from a far away land, Africa, a world apart. A tumor that is unrelenting, taking over the face of our sweet friend, has brought her here, away from her children, away from her husband. She seeks healing, but after 8 months of time in the states, the treatments aren't working; not quickly enough. She has nothing here: no family, no distractions, no money, only hope. And her sister, a Sister of the catholic church, to help care for her. When she was stronger, she used to walk to our church to pray. Aron found her there in the dark one afternoon. Alone, asking God to heal her. He knelt and joined her in prayer, and in doing so, a bond of trust was formed. She calls him now, almost every day, never talking more than a few minutes - Aron's Ebu is terrible, and her English isn't all that great - but I think just hearing a loving voice brings comfort.
I know some special ladies with great big hearts, full of God-Love, and when they heard the story of our friend, they jumped on the opportunity to help supply her with resources to meet some of her physical needs. I stuffed their love and sacrifice into a card today, and I could barely hold back the tears as I thought of the reality that these women were giving food and clothing and a drink of water to Jesus in their gift to this woman who is surely the least of these.
Not long after dinner and a short visit, Aron drove our friends to their temporary housing, and I prepared the kids for bed. Now they sleep, and I tell you, I just came from their bed...I had to pull myself away. I hovered over them both, one at time, back and forth between them, breathing in their God-breath, his life filling their lungs. And I prayed that one day his life would fill their hearts. I remember when both were just born. I would put my nose and my mouth right up to theirs, and I would breathe in as they exhaled, hoping to catch a scent of the divine, his gift of life so fresh in their lungs. And I'd swear I could smell heaven...and tonight, I think I caught a whiff of it once again.
A child yet to breathe her first grows within, her presence now undeniable to the eye. And an equally precious child lays her head on pillow, begging for God to see her plight and heal her disease. This life doesn't make sense so often. And it bleeds beauty and tragedy and triumph and defeat. And each of us, a tree in the story about the forest (as Donald Miller says), lives one more day to grow and stretch root and bear fruit and wave gloriously in the wind of his presence, weaving in and out among us. Until the day when heaven breaks open and we see in full the story unfolding from breathtaking beginning to glorious never-ending. Our Story Writer wiping every tear, making all things new and beautiful, in his perfect time.
i don't understand our fragile lives, but I do know this:
our pain will be worth the wait of his final resolution.
and i can hardly wait to see Him face to face.
until then, thanking Him for one more night with my children and husband,