Saturday, April 13, 2013

The most terrifying three seconds

I have a new niece, for whom I am extremely grateful. She is a precious little girl, an absolute angel. I'm falling in love with her every moment I have with her.

A few days ago, I was holding her and bouncing her gently to get her to sleep.  She was laying on her back in the little gap between my thighs as I sat on the couch. She started to relax, but then convulsed so that I could feel the tension in her little muscles.  She opened her mouth as if to cry, but no sound came out except for these awful, tiny little gasps punctuated by gurgles. I scooped her out of my lap and against my shoulder and started smacking her back, thinking she was choking on something. The gasps continued and I began to panic. For about three seconds, I was convinced my darling niece was going to die in my arms.

Thankfully, breath returned to her lungs within a second or two of that panic setting in and she calmed down and began to cry normally. I rushed her to my sister and told what happened and my sister explained that my niece had a harmless reflux problem that merely appeared to be horrific. Relieved, I sat down and thought about what happened.

I have never been more petrified with fear than in those three seconds where I felt out of control and helpless to save my niece. I have never been more convinced of my own guilt that she was in my lap when she began to gasp and that it was therefore my fault. For three agonizing seconds that lasted far too long, I was in Hell. I'd forgotten all my other joys, all my other anguish, and could only think about my niece and how I was about to lose her.

Without putting too fine a point on it or being overdramatic, things became a bit clearer in those moments following the most terrifying three seconds of my life. This whole gay thing seemed like a drop in the bucket of worldly sorrow compared against that of those parents who helplessly watch their children slip away in hospital beds. It also made me wonder what other experiences I haven't had (nor would care to have) that I take for granted. It made me count my blessings that in lieu of worldly Hell, God gave me gay instead. It's a lonely road with many paths, all of them isolating in some way, but I'd take loneliness over those three seconds played on repeat.

This post was more for me than anyone else. I just needed to remember this experience.

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