My partner and I arrived at Leonardo’s Pizza last Friday worn out from our tiresome week. I had another eye injection in my right eye and had powered through a 36-hour migraine working at St. Thomas’ Church. She, on the other hand, was working another grueling week as a Civil Engineer. Sewers and waste water.
It was early in the evening – 5:00-ish. We ordered apps and our waitress was wearing a shirt that said, “Love” on it. I remarked to her that I liked it. She was kind and the banter was light.
Heather (my partner) and I were in a deep discussion about the ego’s mis-creations – some of the ultimate ones – like the crucifixion. More like Easter talk than Christmas. Ironically, we were enjoying the diversion into our burgeoning spirituality through A Course in Miracles when I heard a lady yell from across the restaurant.
Time stopped. Dead in its tracks. Floating through the ether were the words: “Does someone know CPR? My granddaughter is choking!” It was a pressed call for help.
From where I was sitting, I looked to see that trouble was indeed looming. Hurriedly, I scrambled to the grandmother and the little girl. By the time I got there, the girl was standing next to the booth. I wrapped my arms around her from behind and placed my hands in a ball beneath her small ribs. She was tiny. On my first thrust, I lifted her off the floor. Nothing. I did it again. Nothing. Another thrust. Nothing. Right before the fourth thrust, I do not know why, but I bent my lips close to her ear and said very calmly, “It’s okay to throw up.” I lifted her and hit hard a fourth time, the projectile of a hard green candy flew from her mouth onto the floor. She breathed.
I looked around and saw that no one in the restaurant had moved. The little girl sidled next to her grandmother and I walked back to my booth and sat down. By this time, the waitress – the one with the “Love” shirt – was there in tears. I hugged her and told her that the little girl was okay. I think by the end we must have hugged at least three times.
I looked at Heather and she looked at me. Time was still locked. I finally intimated – calmly – that I could not eat the dinner. After all of that, it seemed right to leave.
We asked for boxes for the spaghetti. Later, Heather would tell me that the little girl’s mother entered the restaurant and witnessed the whole thing. She paid for our dinner.
Before we left, I had to see the little girl. I had only been behind her and then had simply walked away. Heather and I walked over to the booth and met her mother and her grandmother. I looked at the small, I think four-year-old child, and asked her what her name was.
“Hayden,” she said. She smiled at me and I looked into her eyes and witnessed the most angelic vision I think I have ever seen.
I asked her what she was getting for Christmas. She replied with a shrug, “I don’t know.” I then said to her that I hoped she would get everything she wanted. She smiled and nuzzled next to her grandmother.
At my study group on Monday night this week, I told them the story. I’ve told several people this week. The first person I told was my mom. I tell her just about everything.
What struck me this week were two things. The timing of our “grueling” week last week navigated us right to that restaurant. The other thing was that I was glad – elated really – that during my three “dark nights of the soul” in this lifetime, I did not choose suicide over the love of life.
Merry Christmas, Hayden. I hope that is how you spell your name. If not, forgive my error. I hope your life is as precious as your family and the sweetness you showed me in those minutes last Friday.
The sweet eyes of a child. A blessing indeed. Christmas is coming and Hayden is here.
All my love,