When life is good, and I mean really good, you would think there’s little else to do but enjoy it. Well, I managed to do the opposite, and I have recently learned that I’m not the exception. I found great comfort in knowing I was not alone. A comfort anyone with similar thoughts or feelings deserves.
I have a super handsome, extra-fun, loving, and attentive husband, four awesome little humans, a roof overhead, food on the table, health, love. In short, I have everything. I’m one happy, content little soul, for the most part.
But also, I have these bad feelings. I’ve had them for several years. I’ve kept these feelings to myself for fear of how I might be viewed. I call these feelings “intrusions” when they come up at the most inopportune times. They arrive in sequence, and in this very simple manner:
1. I am legit super lucky and incredibly blessed.
2. Something horrible is going to happen to my family.
I see bad things and sadness in the world and in the lives of those around me. Here I am, finding enjoyment in everything, every day. Sure life isn’t perfect, but our imperfections are not noteworthy. They are tiny as soon as the smallest amount of perspective is added to them. Instead (maybe even a tad in spite) of counting my blessings, I just assumed something bad was going to happen. I inevitably deserved it, and I was basically lying in wait for it. I was, to use a coined phrase, waiting for the other shoe to drop. And it did, or so I thought, and it was the longest two minutes of my life:
New Year’s Day, my brother’s family and mine spent the better part of the day at our parents’ house. Not long after dinner, my mom called for me in an oddly stern way and by my full name — the way she did when I was in trouble as a kid.
I rushed upstairs to find her on her knees holding my 2-year-old up under his arms. I knew just by his face that something was not only not right but terribly wrong. I yelled “call 911” as I ran toward his wobbly body and blank face while calling out his name. His absence of response instilled a panic in me I have never experienced and cannot articulate. In the same moment I grabbed him up, I felt him slip away. His tiny little body went limp and he became heavy in my arms.
My first assumption: He’s choking. I do a sweep of his mouth, throw him over my arm, and give him a couple whacks on the back. Nothing. I laid him on the floor. He was gray; his nose and mouth were blue. I was then 100% convinced I was losing him. I began CPR. I compressed his chest a couple times, listened for breathing, nope. I gave him a breath. A couple more compressions, and my brother gave him another breath. All this while his father and I desperately cried and repeatedly begged him not to leave us. My father was yelling at dispatch, “Come, come, come now!”
My other children and nephew were standing by sobbing and frozen in fear. And then my son blinked his eyes; he was coming back. I scooped him back up, did another sweep of his mouth, a bit too close to the back, causing him to gag. The sound of his gag reflex was the most glorious sound to have ever entered my ears. He was coming around just as emergency personnel arrived.
No, my CPR skills didn’t save his life. He did not have a blocked airway. He didn’t ingest something harmful. He spiked a fever so high, so fast, that he suffered a febrile seizure — something I had not considered. I did know that we control fevers to prevent seizures, and so it slowly began to make sense. He was completely normal, not warm, mere minutes before it all went down. Had he been “off” or warm to the touch I might have considered he was seizing, but unfortunately we had no warning. Thankfully, now he’s right back to his normal self, but he gets a little annoyed with the random temperature checks. But I can’t help myself — I’m so scared he’ll spike a fever behind my back.
While I worked away on his seemingly lifeless little body; crying for him to stay with me, amidst the 911 call, the sobbing children, and the overall panic of it all, I had an out-of-body experience. I thought with a vividness that is still palpable today: This is it. I’m going to lose him. I knew this was coming. I knew it. My life won’t even work without this child in it. Please God, don’t do this. I will repay you any other way, please, please, no.
I recognize I’m traumatized from this. Heck, I spent almost two minutes certain I was losing my baby. I’m working on shaking the feeling. The flashbacks are gradually becoming fewer and further between. A dark shadow that was eerily present the days following has significantly faded. It’s all ingrained in my brain. I’ve seen things I can’t unsee and felt things I can’t unfeel. But it’s getting better, and with time (and help if needed), I know I will heal. We all will.
I’ve had plenty of support through this all, and I’ve learned a very important lesson from this support. The world just doesn’t work the way I had myself convinced it does. There’s no liability attached to happiness. It just simply is. My own consciousness of grace had been leading me to an imaginary condemnation and negating the grace altogether. It was a backward way of thinking. It was instilling a fear that prevented me from fully enjoying all the good in my life. With this recent reminder of just how precious life is, I won’t waste a single second not enjoying my blessings entirely; I’ll enjoy them while I’m counting them.