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5.13.2005

Rankin County Angel

It’s been a while since I thought about the anonymous angel we know in Rankin County, Mississippi. On 2peas tonight there was a story linked from the NY Post that told of a little girl choking to death on a piece of hard peppermint this week. It reminded me of J’s angel…a story I should probably scrapbook.

When J was about 2.5, Joal and I took him with us to eat at our favorite hole-in-the-wall Mexican place. Cafe Azteca in Brandon. This was our favorite Mexican joint while we were in college…good food cheap, no dress code…perfect college cuisine. It’s a small place consisting of maybe 15 tables in a room about the size of a large garage and they did a booming take-out business.

During our meal one night, J began to choke on a piece of a tortilla chip. He was really blue before we could get him out of the seatbelt in the chair and up. Having had the child safety training class when he was born, I knew what to do...or so I thought. I got him up, laid him over my arm and pressed but nothing happened.

In this moment, my baby is obviously distressed, in the periphery of my mind I can hear Joal praying, the waitress calling 911 and while the whole room watches, I am having no success getting his airway unobstructed.

From another table, a woman approaches me and says “I’m a nurse. Can I try?” I handed my baby to a perfect stranger and watched as she performed the Heimlich perfectly and up came the chip. She slips a finger into his mouth and pulls it out. Then she hands me a screaming bundle of 2 year old boy. Screaming is definitely a great sound in some situations.

Now, and even then, the words “Thank you” seemed so shallow and so unequal to the task of saving a baby’s life. What do I say to this woman? I had no clue.

Needless to say, the Devendorf family meal was over. That was a bit too much excitement for us. Joal was pretty shaken up during the event. Julian was calming. I had yet to completely comprehend…that’s me…always behind. On our way out, I asked the lady her name and she said “Sweetie, don’t worry about. I’m glad I was here to help. You just take care of that baby.”

With great humility, we paid our tab and hers and slowly made our way home. About halfway home, my brain caught up with the details and I realized that the evening could have had a very different ending.

God is good.
And somewhere in Rankin County Mississippi is a woman who doubles as an angel.
A woman who quietly saved a tiny little boy’s life.
A life that is very precious to me.

I pray for her. I pray that God will return to her a thousand fold the blessing that she gave us that night. She will never be forgotten.

I’m grateful that she was present and willing and trained. As I think about it now, it takes some fortitude to walk up to a stranger and say “Can I try this on your baby?”

Yes, we took the Red Cross Child Safety/CPR classes when J was born. I still remember the head-knowledge of what to do and how. However, when it’s your heart and soul turning blue, it’s different.

Choking can happen to anyone at any time. Choking is especially harmful to children. Not just hard candy, but all sorts of foods…hot dogs, jelly beans, nuts, fruities, ice cubes, chips, and so many other things.

Be ever watchful.
For choking babies.
And for quiet angels.

4 comments:

TracieClaiborne said...

Man, what a story! You have reminded me once again that I so need to learn CPR and the Heimlech manuever. You can never be too careful. Thanks for sharing.

~**Dawn**~ said...

totally teared up reading that. i don't know you or your baby yet i am so grateful that someone was sent to help you. made me think of the lyrics to a song:

Oh I believe there are angels among us
Sent down to us from somewhere up above
They come to you and me in our darkest hours
To show us how to live
To teach us how to give
To guide us with a light of love

They wear so many faces
Show up in the strangest places
Grace us with thier mercy
In our time of need

God bless you & your family & this wonderful woman.

Hoda :) said...

Hi Sarah,

Hoda here. :) Was doing some research on the net and ended up at your site.

Your story is so very touching and I know how special this unknown angel has to be for you and your family. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

The web site is great. My best to you with it now and in the future.

Have a great day,
Hoda :)

jenlessinger said...

This struck a nerve for me. noah choked on pizza a couple of months ago and it terrified me. my husband had him upside down, pounding on his back HARD. it was the scariest thing i've ever experienced, and it haunts me.

thank god for angels.